Waco Express: Live and Kicking at Schubas Tavern

Songlist:expresscover

  1. Waco Express
  2. Blink of An Eye
  3. Too Sweet to Die
  4. Red Brick Wall
  5. Cowboy in Flames
  6. Fox River
  7. Hell’s Roof
  8. Do What I Say
  9. Missing Link
  10. If You Don’t Change Your Mind
  11. Death of Country Music
  12. Nothing At All
  13. Plenty Tough Union Made
  14. Harm’s Way
  15. Revolution Blues
  16. Take Me To the Fires

Reviews:

Bloodshot says:

Full of shout-along manifestos and strident tomfoolery from each of their seven studio albums, Waco Express lives up to the mandate given to the mastering engineer to “err on the side of massive, fierce and overwhelming.” Critical darlings since their unleashing, featuring a scribe-ready lineup of members from the Mekons, Jesus Jones, Wreck, Gang of Four and others, as well as a genre-bending fearlessness, the Waco Brothers have always saved their best for the stage. The live shows, particularly at SXSW and CMJ, are events of genuine reverence for their leave-it-all-out-there-this-
should-be-FUN-dammit convictions. Over the years, this fervor has resulted in an onstage wedding proposal betwixt two fans (SXSW ‘02), a riot (Edinburgh ‘03), and a thousand and one lost nights of sweaty, happy reverie.

Sadly, there’s always been the undercurrent of grousing, as good as the studio albums are, that, well, it’s not like BEING there. Well, now it is. On Waco Express, you can practically feel the heat from the stage, smell the smoke on your clothes, taste the beery taste of beer and let your ears bask in the un-tempered wall of sound.

When the first Wacos CD hit the streets in 1995, punk AND country were lying torpid, shaming their respective populist histories. Fifteen years later, the problem has gotten nothing but worse, with one shilling for cruise lines and luxury cars and the other blathering on with a jingoistic fervor not seen since Remember the Maine! Quite frankly, we need the Wacos now more than ever.

“Everything here is bristling with energy, righteous anger and driving, emphatic rock’n'roll.” Iowa City Press Citizen

“It’s a potent mix, the headlong rush alongside well-worn skill, the half-drunken banter next to razor sharp social commentary, and it comes across as unstudied, no, as a force of nature in this uniformly excellent CD. The only problem with this album is that it reminds you, like a kick in the head, that you should have been at this show, instead of only hearing it second hand. That’s the acid test for the best concert recordings, and Waco Express passes easily.” “PopMatters.com

“While they’ve never risen above cult-hero status, this superbly recorded live document will leave you wondering why…the band is shit hot [and] they serve up all killer, no filler.” Mike Usinger No Depression

“This collection of songs is strong enough to sub for the Waco Brothers “Greatest Hits” album that in a better world would be filling an end cap at a newly unionized Wal-Mart.” allmusic.com

Greil Marcus: Elephant dancing: why the new Waco Brothers album is not just “live” but alive

Four songs into their uproarious Waco Express: Live & Kickin’ at Schubas Tavern (Bloodshot), the Waco Brothers combine pure blues, honky-tonk country, and stand-up comedy. They’re a so-called mutant country band composed mostly of U.K. expatriates–guitarist Jon Langford, mandolinist Tracey Dear, bassist Alan Doughty, drummer Steve Goulding–plus steel guitarist Mark Durante and guitarist Dean Schlabowske, both originally from Milwaukee.

With Waco Express it doesn’t matter whether you get out much or not; you’re right there in Schubas Tavern as if you’re there five nights a week. The musicians have brought their beers onstage, they’re pushing and insulting each other, greeting friends in the crowd, announcing themselves with “Waco Express,” which inevitably comes off as a version of “Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees.” They bash their way through three songs. And then something breaks–a glass, the space-time continuum, lightning striking through the roof, it doesn’t matter. Everything is different.

It’s one of those moments that can happen only in a small club or a hall where the crowd is on its feet because there’s nowhere to sit down. It’s a sense of event: Something is about to happen. No, something has already happened–the emotional weather has changed. “This song’s about a red brick wall, arrrgggghhhh!” Langford screams, all but spewing Guinness along with the words. And then it’s as if the band isn’t playing the song but chasing it. An exploding pattern of low guitar sparks makes a sound so hard you can almost touch it.

Schlabowske is standing tall in the middle, telling his tale of woe–drunk in an alley, consumed by guilt, lost and abandoned, trussed up on a bed like a pig. That he sounds more corn-fed than James Stewart only makes the pictures his words draw in your head more ludicrous. And then he says something you don’t expect.

On the day of his death I built JFK a shrine
Well, on the day of his death I built JFK a
shrine

Suddenly, the classic form of thousands and thousands of blues songs, where the setup of a repeated first line (”I can set right here look on Jackson Avenue/I can set right here look on Jackson Avenue”) is completed by a third line that feels inevitable as soon as you hear it (”I can see everything that my good woman do”) is turned inside out. Inevitable? “I built JFK a shrine”? What could follow that? The music rushes forward, but the song suspends itself; the break between the repeated first two lines and the third is filled with suspense.

I’ve never heard anything like it–and that the third line, now the punch line, falls just short of the first is, somehow, absolutely right.

“Red Brick Wall” isn’t the best song on Waco Express–it isn’t even close. It merely raises the stakes, to the point where Langford’s even faster, harsher, brutally bitter “Hell’s Roof” can take so much out of someone who just stumbled in for a good time, you might feel the band ought to pay the audience rather than the other way around. Schlabowske is back with the gorgeous, swirling motel-room ballad “If You Don’t Change Your Mind.” “Harm’s Way” is a happy-go-lucky stampede so bright and mindless (”Well, every time I think of my baby, working in that old coal mine/I feel so doggone guilty, I–”) you know nothing can go wrong. One song before the throwaway closer that lets the band off the stage to join everyone else at the bar, there is “Revolution Blues.” With big, dramatic flourishes, voices making cheesy horror-movie “woo-woo-woo’s,” the beat moving like a runaway stagecoach without a driver, Schubas Tavern falls away.

It’s Neil Young’s song about the Manson family. When he sang it on On the Beach in 1974, the pace was slow, almost lazy, the voice laconic, a hipster’s knowing smile behind every line: “I’ll kill them in their cars.” As Langford races through the territory, half-scared, half out for blood, you catch that like a flash of light if you catch it at all. You feel the tension, all but scraping your skin. Something terrible is about to happen. No, it’s worse than that: Something terrible has already happened, and you’ve forgotten what it was. The song moves too fast, its words buried in its drive: The Waco Brothers aren’t going to tell you what happened, only that it did.

A lot of good nights out don’t give you that much to take home, that much to keep you awake.

Electric Waco Chair

chair1Songlist:
1. It’s Not Enough (Langford vocals)
2. Make Things Happen (Deano)
3. Mighty Fall (Langford)
4. Jamaican Radio Obituary (Deano)
5. Walking on Hell’s Roof Looking At the Flowers (Langford)
6. Cornered (Tracy Dear)
7. Where in the World (Deano)
8. When I Get My Rewards (Langford)
9. Circle Tour — (Deano)
10. Nothing to Say (Langford)
11. Fox River (Deano)
12. Dragging My Own Tombstone (Langford)
13. Never Real (Deano)

Reviews:

(From Daryl Walsh who posted it to a bloodshot mailing list)

Waco Brothers new disc, Electric Waco Chair, is exceptional. The band left out the horns and, for the most part, keys on this one and created a collection of distinct songs only occasionally reminiscent of anything they’ve done in the past. There are no ‘See Willy Fly By’ or ‘Cowboy in Flames’ punk-country songs on this one–a mellower feel over all. Produced by Ken Sluiter (producer for many Chicago bands, including the Mekons) the songs all sound polished without sounding over-produced. Heard the Waco’s perform several of these songs live at goose fest (and even more during the waco’s 2nd set saturday inside the pub) andwhile they struck me as different from the rest of the waco’s songs, they make the live show that much more interesting.

1. It’s Not Enough (Langford vocals)
– a festive song, straight from the islands. Would fit well on the Mekons’ last release. The band played this one during the early set at goose fest and again at night inside the pub. “I’ll be trying to change the channel/As my life goes flashing by”

2. Make Things Happen (Deano)
– bouncy, upbeat song (yeah, odd words to describe a waco’s song);for some reason, evokes images of BJ and the Bear. great tune. also performed during goose fest.

3. Mighty Fall (Langford)
– slow, deliberate tennessee waltz pace to this song. sounds like a Sally song (maybe similar to something off of John and Sally’s summer release?).

4. Jamaican Radio Obituary (Deano)
– john rice’s fiddle all over this mid-tempo song gives it a loozyanna flavor. one of the best on the disc.

5. Walking on Hell’s Roof Looking At the Flowers (Langford)
– this one starts with just John singing Billy-Bragg-like over a guitar and then the band kicks in and the song takes off into a Sovines-meet-the- Clash lorry-stop special.

6. Cornered (Tracy Dear)
– Breezy, latin flavored song with desperado lyrics, makes you wanna dance.

7. Where in the World (Deano)
– crunchy,driving verses juxtaposed against a soaring, sing-along chorus.

8. When I Get My Rewards (Langford)
wacos version of an oft-covered Paul Kennerly tune.

9. Circle Tour — (Deano)
second song on this disc to reference Grand Rapids (not sure if the reference to Grand Rapids in Jamaican Radio Obit is in reference to Minn or Mich) this song’s explictily about Michigan… a train like backbeat behind the most interesting, sparse music on the disc ( with Kelly Hogan on backing vocals).

10. Nothing to Say (Langford)
– Plenty Tuff Union Made, Pt II (and yet it sounds a little like a john mellencamp song).

11. Fox River (Deano)
– Jagger vocals over Keith Richards guitar and an organ in the background.

12. Dragging My Own Tombstone (Langford)
– Mekons flavored song about working too much for too little.

13. Never Real (Deano)
— laconic song about drinking and moving on…perfect closer.

i’ve included some of the above tracks in the following myplay mix:
http://myplay.winamp.com/mp/playlist/now_playing.jsp? plid=277632&start=1
to listen, cut and paste the entire url into your browser’s address field. it ends with a ‘1′
DMCA rules restrict how these mixes are made (e.g, no more than 3 songs from an album per 3 hours, mix has to be at least 5 hours, no consecutive songs by the same artist, yadda, yadda, yadda) so the waco’s songs are at the following points in the mix:
mix-track 4 ‘It’s Not Enough’ (track 1 on the cd)
track 6: ‘Make Things Happen’
track 9: ‘Walking on Hell’s Roof Looking at the Flowers’
there’s a couple more Electric Waco Chair songs near the end of the mix (when the myplay filter was satisfied that they were far enough away from the above 3 songs.)

Assorted selections from others artists buffer the waco’s tracks.

Greil Marcus: On the “Salon” website:

It seems certain now that on record the self-proclaimed Last Dead Cowboys will never get close to their live sound, where a vehemence that seems to come out of the ground is summoned to overwhelm any mere songs, and so burns the songs into your heart. On record they’re closer to the ’70s English country band Brinsley Schwarz, which is nothing to be sorry about, unless you want to judge all those you find wanting, which dead cowboys tend to do. Here the vocals alternating between Jon Langford and Dean Schlabowske produce the sense of a conversation between friends who see the world in the same way and feel everything differently. Defeat is the primary condition of their lives, but while for Langford defeat is the only condition of life he trusts, and so in a way he loves it, can trust himself only when he’s looking up from the bottom, Schlabowske will never be at home in his misery, even if he’s never lived anywhere else. He’s Hank Williams, still singing about hope long after he should have learned it’ll never knock; Langford is Williams’ biographer, saying all those things Williams could never say out loud. CDNOW:

Take six Chicago-based British and American punk/industrial veterans and force-feed them Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, and you get the Waco Brothers. Known for their rabble-rousing live shows, until now the Wacos, fueled by who knows how many cases of beer, appeared to record their albums in a single day. Electric Waco Chair their fifth release, sounds like the band finally decided to make an album that stands up to repeated listening, and they’ve more than succeeded. The 13 tracks range from classic rants by Waco/Mekons frontman Jon Langford to Dean Schlabowske’s laconic alt-country offerings. “History’s written by the winner / This is a loser’s song,” Langford sings on “Walking on Hell’s Roof Looking at the Flowers,” whose title pretty much sums up the Wacos scorched-earth lyrical attitude.
But the faint of heart should fear not: Jangly, radio-friendly tunes, such as “Make Things Happen” and “It’s Not Enough,” add balance to the bluster, making for a truly satisfying listen.
Dan Kening
CDNOW Contributing Writer
Call it electric waco slippers:

From Checkout.com:

As The Waco Brothers mature into a real band rather than just another of Jon Langford’s many side projects, Dean Schlabowske and Tracy Dear have tried to carry a greater amount of the songwriting weight, and their sound has taken on a more individual personality, rather than the “Mekons-with-a-twang-and-faster-tempos” sound of their debut. This didn’t work out so well on 1999’s Waco World, a somewhat muddled set that lacked the fire and focus of the group’s best work, but Electric Waco Chair finds the Wacos firmly back on track; Schlabowske and Dear are learning to deliver material just as strong as Langford’s always top-shelf work (especially “Jamaican Radio Obituary” and “Fox River”), and the band sounds tighter, stronger, and more expressive than ever before (the three live cuts also testify to the Wacos undeniable strength on stage). If Electric Waco Chair offers a bit less pure fury than the Waco Brothers’ high-water mark, Cowboy in Flames, from a musical standpoint it finds this band sounding better than ever before, and their rabble-rousing anger is still very much in evidence if you’re looking for it; the Waco Brothers are one of the very best bands to emerge from the alt-country scene, and this album proves they’re only getting better with time.

~ Mark Deming

From DAA: Dancing about architecture:

Alt-country. I mean, what the hell does that mean? Here in Chicago, it’s thrown around with almost the same regularity as terms like “wind chill” and “political corruption.” But the latter, at least, defines something — say, when your alderman pockets a five-figure bribe in exchange for a cherry city contract. On the other hand, alt-country could be practically anything — Chuck Berry, Meatloaf, Pere Ubu, Liberace, At the Drive-In, Yanni — you name it. Anything that sounds like it wouldn’t have made the soundtrack of Coal Miner’s Daughter. Since you won’t hear Loretta Lynn warbling “Walking on Hell’s Roof Looking at the Flowers” or “Make Things Happen,” call the Waco Brothers alt-country, I guess. But also recognize that this, their fifth and best long-player, is where the shtick finally hits the fan as Dean Schlabowski shoves Jon Langford toward the sometime-Mekon’s best rock and roll since The Mekons Rock ‘N’ Roll. Not that they’ve outgrown honky-tonkin’; you’ll find snatches here and there of the twang that often gets them miscast as a novelty act. But Langford’s always expressed himself best over dirty guitars and a backbeat, and this time out, he’s clearly got something to say.
Rating: 8
Rob Brookman/Tim Frommer

Freedom And Weep

weep1Release Date: August 16, 2005

Reviews
Songlist:
01 Nothing at all
02 Chosen few
03 Come a long way
04 Secrets
05 How fast the time
06 Lincoln town car
07 It’s amazing
08 On the sly
09 Drinkin & cheatin & death
10 Fantasy
11 Missing link
12 Rest of the world
13 Join the club

weep2

Reviews:

Bloodshot says:

Down from the hills in their fuel efficient mini-van with ‘The Waco Brothers Invade Jesusland’ scrawled on the side in glitter and fire-red lipstick, the Brothers are ready to show off the totems they’ve carved out of the corpses of punk and country.

Times are tough and disasters both natural and unnatural threaten to dismantle all we hold precious. There can be no more welcome a sight to a beaten and misled populace than a band with nothing left to lose careening through the streets, dousing us with warm beer and sweat, guitars rumbling and tongues sharpened, spraying a foul scent into the corrupt temple. The Waco Brothers’ seventh CD shows their usual subtlety at leaving genre after genre in smoking ruins.

During the past decade in the blood-bucket roots underground, The Wacos have been called everything from saviors to butchers and Freedom and Weep is a decidedly rockin’ addition to their formidable canon, a swaggering return to form that hits all your g-spots and leaves you panting. Cuts about crafty little Christians dismantling democracy, going for a drink, golfers disguised as national leaders, appearing stupider than you really are, watching your carbs the night before they strap you to the gurney, election night jitters, and models throwing themselves out of first floor Motel 6 windows show that the Brothers are still able to meet the enemy head on with a good, hair-raising boozy cackle.

No, the years have not dimmed the Wacos zeal for looking into the face of the grotesque cultural and social forces that are forever trying to turn us into placid drones devoid of outrage. Sure, you can dismiss these as songs shouted from the end of the bar by some sozzled cranks. But beyond the pounding of the drums, the shrieking of the steel and the knee-jerking hedonism, outrage stumbles about, there is madness and rage, and the joke is over and the laughter is hollow and tired.

from:

http://www.vitalsourcemag.com/story/view/100767

Originally published 07/01/05 in Vital Source.

Waco Brothers
Freedom and Weep
by Blaine Schultz

In 1965, Brian Jones insisted that Howlin’ Wolf play on the U.S. teenybopper television program “Shindig,” when his group, the Rolling Stones, appeared. This bitch slap effectively asked America: “This music was in your backyard all along. Why did you need us to tell you it was cool?”

Fast-forward to 1985. History repeats itself when U.K. punks, the Mekons, don thrift-store cowboy shirts and hand country music back to America with the album Fear and Whiskey. A decade later, Mekon Jon Langford – along with Milwaukee expatriate Dean Schlabowske and Tracy Dear riding shotgun – forms the Waco Brothers, a side project that takes a life of its own. This Chicago-based band has released a series of shit-kicker country-punk albums more in the spirit and attitude of vintage Bakersfield than Nashville’s gentility. The Wacos don’t claim to be some lithe bluegrass combo or pedigreed blue-harmony yodelers. This is equal parts thought-provoking and Saturday night music.

Freedom and Weep takes a typically pointed look at the climate in the early days of George W. Bush’s second term. It’s not difficult to read daily headlines into lyrics like “what if our history means nothing at all?” and “Daddy says I was the chosen one.” Likewise, the tune “Fantasy” draws on reality television shows. Yeah, things change. Nashville is the new Hollywood, complete with power ballads circa Def Leppard’s Hysteria serving as the template for a hit; the novelty of steel guitars and fiddles sprinkled as the pixie dust of authenticity.

With a fitting lack of subtlety, the tune “Missing Link” takes aim at the crossroads of faith, religion, science and common sense. In the end, history is going to be told by the winners, but there is always going to be a Waco Brother somewhere pointing out the emperor’s new clothes while he blows his tuneless trumpet. And when life just seems to make no sense at all, it’s comforting to realize we can count on the Wacos to pen inspired couplets like “Krakatowa east of Java/Smother me with molten lava.” VS

from:

http://www.smokymountainnews.com/issues/08_05/08_03_05/art_on_note.html

On that note
By Joe Hooten
3 out of 5

Political correctness was definitely not a consideration when the Waco Brothers wrote Freedom and Weep, but its possible they believe in their own “correctness” which involves plenty of booze, loud guitars, and a closeness to the “left.”

Brash, loud, and full of political angst on their seventh CD, the Wacos rip through 13 tracks on Freedom and Weep like the Democrats who torched their newspapers and kicked in their televisions the morning after the 2004 election. Scared? Maybe you should be.

The Waco Brothers is a collage of musicians with full-time gigs with other bands. The infamous lineup includes: Jon Langford on vocals and guitar (Mekons, Pine Valley Cosmonauts), Deano on vocals and guitar (Wreck, Dollar Store), Steve Goulding on drums (Graham Parker & the Rumour, Mekons), Alan Doughty on bass (Jesus Jones), Mark Durante on steel guitar (Revolting Cocks, KMFDM), and Tracy Dear on mandolin. Since its first album, To the Last Dead Cowboy (1995), the Waco Brothers have been compared to bands like Golden Smog, which is also comprised of all-star players from other bands.

The album’s opening track, “Nothing at All” gives a promising glimpse into the rest of the album. Part country, part punk, partly contrived, but pleasantly entertaining and enlightening to some (and probably offensive to others), Freedom and Weep is a complete mixture of disdain for those currently in power along with a distorted sense of humor, and a unique musical tribute to good old rock n’ roll.

The Waco Brothers wear their political ideals on their sleeve. Take, for example, “Rest of the World,” with lines like: “The champagne’s still on iceMight as well down it tonightIt ain’t gonna wait four more yearsNor will your rights.” Or on “Drinkin’ & Cheatin’ & Death,” the opening line blasts “Last call before the FallHere come the sponsors to drag me awayThe system’s shut down and the dancing’s stoppedIt was sick but it felt OK.”

The Waco Brothers have a reputation for a “leave it all on the stage” attitude, which can make for a memorable live show or a complete collapse from the numerous bottles and pitchers from the bar. Legend has it that the Wacos have come to be the hallmark band for the impressive SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas, and various CMJ Music Events over the past 10 years.

Some critics consider the Waco Brothers to be a “faux-country band,” nothing more than a side project of talented musicians that maintain careers in other bands while taking out their frustrations via the Wacos. Even if this is true, it is evident that songwriting and musicianship is serious stuff to these guys. Although the album is heavily opinionated, it still fits within the “No DepressionAlt-Country” genre. Despite the heavy attitude on most of the songs, the album is fluid and enjoyable as much as it is comical — depending on how you voted last November.

During the 1960s Vietnam era, folk and rock musicians became a catalyst for protest. Their music electrified and corralled people together under a common goal. In my opinion, we haven’t seen such activism in music since that era until now. While it is certainly on a much smaller scale, the war in Iraq has either spurred another movement or people are just cashing in on the Bush-bashing bandwagon. Musicians and bands like Steve Earle, Bruce Springsteen, and Son Volt have all come out with songs critical of the current administration, but the Wacos take it a step further (or sideways) by adding a not-so-serious tone while poking fun at the commander-in-chief.

I have a friend whose idea of political activism consists of forwarding tons of pointless chain emails that, unfortunately, are his source for his spoon-fed opinions on governmental affairs (I’m sure you know the type). The Waco Brothers would chew “all talk, and no action” folks like him up. In fact, these political posers are just one of the ingredients behind the Waco’s latest concoction, Freedom and Weep. It might appear that the Wacos are just sore losers, but liberalism is sometimes reactionary and therefore the Brothers have every right to stand up and scream their sardonic lyrics at full volume about what they feel is wrong with this country, even if they are jumping on the bandwagon a little too late.

The album comes out on the reputable Bloodshot Record label on Aug. 16. Ask for it at your local record store.

(Joe Hooten is a WCU graduate and teacher. He can be reached at that_beat@hotmail.com.)

from:  http://www.splendidmagazine.com

I always thought that I didn’t care for the Waco Brothers. They seemed like the also-ran to the Mekons — the band that people who didn’t know about Jon Langford’s primary gig would listen to for a watered-down version of the country-punk that the Mekons pioneered.
Now that I think about it, I’m not sure how I ever got that impression in the first place: the Wacos always brought the house down at the annual Bloodshot CMJ label showcase in Brooklyn, and whenever I heard one of their tracks on a sampler I enjoyed the experience. In any case, based on the quality of Freedom and Weep, it’s safe to say that my whole (probably ill-formed) opinion of the band has taken a turn for the positive.
In any case, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the Waco Brothers, their approach to alt-country errs to the rocky side; not that that’s a bad thing, of course, but if you’re looking for an accompaniment while you weep into a glass of Pabst, you might do well to look elsewhere. There’s not a downtempo moment anywhere on Freedom (the closest is the gentle, midtempo, upbeat “Come A Long Long Way”); neither (and this is far more remarkable) is there a weak track. Vocal duties pass between three lead singers, and you’re sure to like one more than the others, but none is a deal-breaker by any means.

On many of these songs, the “country” part of the equation has more to do with instrumental textures or songwriting approach (just as was the case with Fear and Whiskey and Honky Tonkin’). “How Fast Is The Time”, for instance, is a straight-ahead rocker, albeit the kind that a yodeling drawl like Dwight Yoakam’s could turn into a country barnburner. Langford’s same-as-it-ever-was Strummeresque declamations keep the song firmly grounded in the rock camp (not, of course, that there’s anything wrong with that). Naturally, the Wacos’ multi-genre feel leads to a number of interesting textural mash-ups, like the reggae guitar rhythm on “Lincoln Town Car”, which manages the neat trick of sounding like the work of a rockin’ honky-tonk band that just played a weekend in Kingston.

Given the album’s title, as well as Langford’s well-known political views, you might expect a great deal more political ranting than you’ll find on Freedom; the only big anti-Bush diatribe is the resigned-but-still-fucking-pissed “Rest of the World”, which admittedly features some nice lyrical turns (”The champagne’s still on ice / might as well down it tonight / It ain’t gonna last four more years / nor will your rights.” For at least half of the Brothers’ audience (Who are we kidding? Ninety-five percent), it will bring back bitter, recent memories. But hey, at least they’re getting drunk too.

Freedom and Weep is one kick-ass track after another from a group that’s clearly in the midst of its prime. If you’ve ever entertained the same silly notions about the Wacos’ irrelevance that I did, give this one a spin and see if they don’t change your mind.

– Brett McCallon

from:  http://popmatters.com/music/reviews/w/wacobrothers-freedom.shtml

by Stephen Haag

It’s hard to keep up with Jon Langford, what with membership in the Mekons, the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, the Three Johns and the Waco Brothers (not to mention a solo career and a sideline gig as a folk artist — that’s his art on the cover of Freedom and Weep). He never gets complacent and he never gets redundant. He also does his best work when he’s outraged by the goings-on in the world; fortunately — for his music, at least — there’s no short of material here in 21st century America to raise Langford’s hackles and inform the latest and greatest from the Waco Brothers, Freedom and Weep.

Of course, the Wacos are a democracy; it’s not the Jon Langford show (after all, would the Left-leaning Langford have it any other way?). Also in the Brotherhood are singer/guitarist Dean Schlabowske, drummer Steve Goulding, bassist Alan Doughty, steel guitarist Mark Durante and singer/mandolinist Tracy Dear; together they comprise the steadiest, most consistent and just plain rollickin’ alt-country outfit of the past decade.

Freedom and Weep, as with the entire Waco discography, is a hoot to blare while drive down an open stretch of road. The full list of rocking moments on this album would be too long to compile, but Schlabowske, the everyman Yin to Langford’s firebrand Yang, kicks off the album with the barroom stomper “Nothing at All”, and his solo on the darker-than-usual-for-the-band “Secrets” is a standout on the disc. Meanwhile, Langford’s “Drinkin’ & Cheatin’ & Death” may not scale the Hot Nashville-vilifying heights of his earlier “Death of Country Music” (off 1997’s Cowboy in Flames), but the sentiment is strong (”Country radio lost its bottle/ Started selling a fantasy/ No drinkin’, no killin’ and the only D.I.V.O.R.C.E./ Is from reality/ >From history”) and to these ears, hearing Langford trill his “rrrrr”’s means there’s still hope in the world.

Politics are as important to the Wacos as the riffs; really, it’s a case of a spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down. Having already painted an unflattering picture of a certain current American president on 2003’s New Deal with “The Lie”, but not getting the change in the White House they were angling for, part of me figured the Wacos would devote this entire new album to calling out Dubya further (that said, even done well, it would have been a wearying disc). Instead, only two songs allude to the president, and he’s never mentioned by name: “Chosen One”, where Langford snarls in his Welsh accent, “Dumb Boy the Patriot/ One day you’ll run out of luck”,
and “The Rest of the World”, where Schlabowske sings, “The champagne’s still on ice/ Might as well down it tonight/ It ain’t gonna wait four more years/ Nor will your rights.” Come to think of it, these two tunes sum up Langford and Schlabowske’s songwriting tacks: political and personal (with a dash of booze), respectively.

And lest I not mention everyone, other Wacos sing! Tracy Dear contributes two songs — “Come a Long Long Way” and the life-on-the-road tune “Fantasy” — that are a little slower than Langford and Schlabowske’s offerings. Call them the only two chances to catch your breath during the album. And Mark Durante sings the hopeful, we’re-all-in-this-mess-together closing track, “Join the Club”. After spending most of Freedom and Weep chronicling the ways in which everyone is separated from each other, it’s nice to hear a call for unity, even if it goes “If you’re sick of being treated like dirt/ Sick of being hurt/ Join the club.”

Freedom and Weep is, in the best sense of the phrase, more of the same from the Wacos. Yes, they’ve been documenting the same social ills — the plight of the worker, the stupidity/duplicity of world leaders, the woeful state of country music and how hard life on the road is (though I can’t sympathize/empathize with that one) — over the course of seven albums, starting with 1995’s To the Last Dead Cowboy. And while some would call that a 10-year rut, or even worse, shoveling shit against the tide — after all, has anything changed for the better during the Wacos run? — I say they’re still at the top of their game. People are lazy and forgetful and need rabblerousers like the Waco Brothers to come around every two years or so with a fresh batch of songs and reminders that there’s still a lot of work to do to improve our world.

— 15 August 2005

http://avclub.com/content/node/25642

Over the course of eight albums, Waco Brothers have thoroughly established their shtick: tradition-minded, punkish country played by a Chicago band featuring several native Europeans with non-country musical pedigrees (in Jesus Jones, Revolting Cocks, and KMFDM, among others). The Wacos - led by songwriter-vocalists Jon Langford, Deano Schlabowske, and Tracey Dear - infuse lefty outrage into rollicking roots songs that lambaste Bush, Christian conservatives, commercial radio, and society in general enough to please any political hardcore band. Red Staters would probably enjoy the music, until they read the lyrics.

By this point in their career, the shtick could easily feel rote. Alt-country bands have broken down country-music stereotypes for roughly 20 years (Langford contributed with his other band, Mekons, and their 1985 album Fear And Whiskey), so the Wacos’ acerbic barn-burners aren’t exactly revolutionary anymore. But the current political and social climate provides bountiful inspiration (Schlabowske even thanks “W for all the material” in the liner notes), and in the group’s skilled hands, the entire package never feels hackneyed. The Waco songwriters, particularly Langford, are insightful lyricists; they make the words understandable but slightly arcane, so that people have to pay attention to comprehend their meaning. The penultimate track, “Rest Of The World,” is the most direct anti-Bush screed, but Schlabowske never mentions the re-election specifically. Aside from a clunky line about champagne on ice not lasting four years, “nor will your rights,” Schlabowske conveys his everyman outrage well: “There’s you and me and the rest of the world be damned.” Langford again criticizes one of his favorite targets, mainstream country music, on “Drinkin’ & Cheatin’ & Death,” a rock song with a rootsy edge that blasts country’s self-censorship. In his Welsh brogue, he sings, “‘Cos country radio lost its bottle / Started sellin’ a fantasy / No drinkin’, no killin’, and the only D-I-V-O-R-C-E / Is from reality, from history.”

For all the Wacos’ gleefully sardonic lyrics, clever turns of phrase can’t save a crappy song, but Freedom And Weep doesn’t have one. It comes out of the gates strong with the enthusiastic “Nothing At All,” experiments with moodier material on “Come A Long Long Way” and “It’s Amazing” (with its excellent, galloping bassline), and ends with a supremely country group sing-along, “Join The Club.” Pedal steel permeates all of the songs, inherently lending an air of honky-tonk authenticity. Like the rest of the album, it sounds great.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/19/AR2005081900365.html

Forget Paris, Think Waco

By Shannon Zimmerman
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, August 21, 2005; N06

Alt-country’s Waco Brothers have been making amazing records for so long, it’s easy to take them for granted.

Fronted by living legend Jon Langford — whose punk-era luminaries the Mekons are still up and running, God bless ‘em — the band is almost too good to be true. The Chicago-based outfit provides such a rich and smart-alecky amalgam of down-home cowpunk and biting lyrical wit that it’s nearly impossible to believe it exists.

But exist it does, and “Freedom and Weep,” the band’s cleverly titled seventh CD, is easily its best outing yet.

Following on the heels of Langford’s impressive 2004 solo turn, “All the Fame of Lofty Deeds,” the Wacos’ new one picks up where their ringleader left off: In the midst of contemplating a U.S. of A. cut loose from its wide-eyed moorings and bound up in the kind of mind-numbing paranoia and/or ennui that apparently only hard drinking, “Girls Gone Wild” and, maybe, Paris Hilton can relieve.

“Pass me the bottle, hand me my heart,” offers Dean Schlabowske as his fellow Wacos serve up a twang-laden backyard barbecue on the album’s fiery set opener, “Nothing at All.” “I’m wasted and stunted, but I talk like a star.” In a perfect world, that lyric, dripping with sarcasm, would be a call — if not to arms then at least to stop Tivoing “The Simple Life” and to start paying attention to real life.

The Wacos, alas, aren’t too hopeful on that front.

To wit: The swaggering “Drinkin’ & Cheatin’ & Death” — a track that sounds like something the members of Kiss might cook up if they operated a Branson nightspot — opens during “last call before the fall” at a country bar. And it closes, appropriately enough, with a sputtering lament, offered from the point of view of a performer whose corporate sponsors have come to drag him off the stage, that “the only D-I-V-O-R-C-E is from reality, from history.”

Elsewhere, on the barnstorming “Chosen One,” Langford zings the powers that be by commingling the parable of the loaves and fishes with an ad hominem attack on “Dumb Boy the Patriot,” a character who finds “mayhem so seductive” and that “destruction is instructive.”

Subtle? Not hardly. But that’s never been the Wacos’ calling card. Instead, on pithy, bitter ditties like “Secrets” — a fast-paced country two-stepper that could inspire a mosh pit at a hootenanny — and the crunchy “On the Sly,” the band combines torn-from-the-op-ed-pages words with music that fans of higher-profile alt-country acts would no doubt swoon for. And that goes double for “It’s Amazing,” a track that taps into the country mystique that Lucinda Williams shot for (and missed) on 2003’s tepid “World Without Tears.”

But cherry-picking keepers from “Freedom and Weep” is light work. Better to slightly misquote Langford’s contemporaries in the Clash and say that, taken together, the songs assembled on this fine and substantial platter resonate like public service announcements — with pedal steel guitar.

Now / Toronto:

The Waco Brothers are the Grateful Dead of cowpunk, an incredibly spectacular live outfit who’ve rarely been able to translate their fervent, propulsive energy into a solid studio set. They’ve lways been the left-wing voice of reason, downing pints at the local pub and puking up political manifestos for the working man like some old-timer who just won’t shut the fuck up no matter how any times you politely ask. And Freedom is no exception, with typically humorous rants about Christian extremists, reality TV, George Dubya and the state of the States. Yet it’s as if the Brothers ent for a night of virgin Marys instead of their normal crutch and came out rejuvenated, clear-headed and determined to clear up any questions about their ability to serve up a full-on rock record with nary a weak track, and just enough pedal steel to show they haven’t lost touch with their roots. A must.
Remember back in 1995, when the Waco Brothers told us “Bad Times (Are Comin’ Round Again)” on their first album? Who ever knew they would be so right? Maybe we all thought things looked grim under the rule of “Bill the Cowboy” back in the day, but six years of “Dubya” can go a long way towards changing someone’s perspective, and kicking up your heels isn’t as easy as it used to be. Jon Langford and his fellow Waco Brothers seem to know it, and Freedom and Weep, the group’s seventh album, is a bit less twangy and a bit less rambunctious than the band’s best work, though if you think that means the band is losing sight of their rage, you’d be wrong. Freedom and Weep is a full-bodied but bitter chronicle of living in an America that more than ever resembles Phil Ochs’ description of a nation that’s become “two Mack trucks colliding on a superhighway because all the drivers are on amphetamines.” With tougher rock, tighter performances, and a bit less mournful steel than one might expect (don’t worry, it hasn’t gone away, it’s just less prominent), Freedom and Weep rants against working class poverty (”Nothing at All”), ugly Americanism (”Rest of the World”), conspicuous consumption (”Lincoln Town Car”), and the president of the United States (”Chosen One”), while the less polemical numbers still speak of a time and place where confusion reigns and desperation is just as real as the beer in your refrigerator. Freedom and Weep isn’t quite a top-shelf Waco Brothers album, but it’s an appropriate one for America in the year 2005, and if there’s a good share of bitter futility in these songs, there’s also a liberating rage, and if this once-great land is at the point of collapse, the Waco Brothers are here to, at the very least, see that the folks who still care go down swinging. ~ Mark Deming, All Music Guide

from:  http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/record-reviews/w/waco-brothers/freedom-and-weep.shtml

Rating: 6.6

As the grim smirk of its title implies, Freedom and Weep finds Jon Langford and the Waco Brothers– now rather unbelievably 10 years and
seven albums into the game– in a cranky, dispirited frame of mind. Though outwardly the group’s foursquare, whiskey-soaked country-rock remains as wry and ornery as ever, on many of these tracks a distinctive air of bitter, spiteful resignation has crept in, leaving the album with a depressive, hungover pallor around its gills. And while by this point one could never question the Brothers’ zealous devotion to their cause, nor their unimpeachable talents as a riotous live act, one can’t help but wish that their righteous anger more frequently translated itself into similarly fiery, unrestrained abandon in the recording studio.

For their first album since 2002’s New Deal, the Waco Bros. have scaled back on their twang slightly– and on the vestiges of actual punk almost completely– and have now cozily settled into a tempered Crazy Horse/Skynyrd mid-range classicism. Early in the group’s career the Wacos were often perceived as merely another of Jon Langford’s numerous side projects away from the Mekons– and rather a play-acting novelty at that. But they’ve long since matured into a true, fully democratic band, and here Langford splits microphone time with guitarist Deano as well as mandolinist Tracy Dear. Performances are stout if generally uneventful throughout, and often it’s the tasteful pedal steel contributions of Mark Durante (formerly of Revolting Cocks and KMFDM) and the relentless pummel of drummer Steve Goulding (who’s played with everyone from Graham Parker and Elvis Costello to Archer Prewitt) that rescue these tracks from their most hidebound roadhouse tendencies.

“What if our history means nothing at all?” worries Deano on the opening blue-collar lament “Nothing At All”, a Son Voltish scorcher that immediately (if unsurprisingly) reestablishes the Wacos’ alignment with the woebegotton, put-upon underdog. This can’t-win-for-losing stance leads the band quite naturally to the election night blues of “The Rest of the World”, (”Champagne’s still on ice/ Might as well down it tonight/ It ain’t going to last four more years/ Nor are your rights,”) as well as to Langford’s exquisitely vindictive Bush diatribe “Chosen One”.

On the well-titled “Drinkin’ & Cheatin’ and Death”, Langford returns another of his favorite barn-sized targets– commercial Nashville country. Over the album’s best woozy hook he drops the newsflash “Country radio lost its balls/ And started selling fantasy/ No drinking, no killing and the only divorce is from reality,” tidily bringing up-to-date those listeners who’ve been comatose or otherwise out-of-pocket for the past couple decades. Elsewhere, the Brothers direct barbs at reality TV (”Fantasy”), crass materialism (”Lincoln Town Car”), and Intelligent Design (”Missing Link”) with varying degrees of wit and subtlety, but unfortunately the band’s staunch musical conservatism ensures that none of these tracks ever ventures far from the predictable. Freedom and Weep culminates with the raucous, misery-loves-company anthem “Join the Club”, an appropriately cheerless finale for what’s arguably the Waco Brothers’ most accomplished but least fun album to date.

-Matthew Murphy, August 30, 2005

Amazon:

As they’ve demonstrated since the time of their first release (1995’s To the Last Dead Cowboy), the Waco Brothers have a dual reason for their existence. One is to give voice to the angers, fears and hopes they feel as they bear witness to the world around them, and the other is to rock with unshakable commitment. Combining the compellingly vivid vocals of the Clash with similarly outraged diatribes, they couch them in human scaled scenarios, not unlike the approach Steve Earle has taken. This is a band John Fogerty could be proud of, as they take on the abuse of privilege, the arrogance of power, and the dizzy travails of those on the lower rungs of the social ladder. –David Greenberger
First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2005, Volume 12, #8

Written by John Metzger

The Waco Brothers has made a career out of pitting its Joe Strummer-esque inclinations against its Mick Jagger-ish posturing, but rarely has this unique dichotomy worked as well in the studio as it has in concert. On its latest outing Freedom and Weep, however, the band makes its most concerted effort since 1999’s Waco World to avoid trying to duplicate the blood and guts fury of its live performances. While the end result is, perhaps, more polished than one might expect, it also is more mature, more accessible, and remarkably more engaging than much of what the ensemble has released in the past.

For the record, Freedom and Weep’s songs are sung with a snarl, but its underlying music is delivered with a certain semblance of restraint. Although the bulk of the outing is propelled by the Waco Brothers’ knack for concocting angst-filled, rhythmic tension, it also is carefully shaded with the textural layers of guitar, mandolin, and pedal steel. Indeed, it seems that after all this time, the Waco Brothers finally has crafted a radio-friendly batch of material, all of which would fit quite comfortably within the context of a typical classic-rock station. In fact, for once it feels as if the band actually found the album-making process to be an agreeable affair. Indeed, the group’s performance throughout Freedom and Weep is lively and vibrant, and consequently, the selections — be it the acoustic, country-tinged ballad I’ve Come a Long Way or the galloping cow-punk of Secrets — sounds fresher than most like-minded endeavors.

The reason, perhaps, behind the Waco Brothers’ newfound, organic approach may lie within the reoccurring thematic message that binds together Freedom and Weep’s disparate selections. Although the band consistently has positioned itself as a voice for the working man, its attention increasingly has turned towards larger, more worldly issues. Fantasy, for example, skewers America’s infatuation with reality television and celebrity culture. Reignited by George W. Bush’s imperialistic rule, the group takes direct aim at Christian fundamentalists (Missing Link), the intertwining of faith and politics (Chosen One), and the President’s re-election (The Rest of the World). By concluding with its rousing pep talk Join the Club, the Waco Brothers successfully unites its past and present visions into a electrifying call-to-arms that allows Freedom and Weep to stand as its most focused outing to date.

Threeimagniarygirls:

By Chris Estey

This is a PISSED OFF album, made by a gin-soaked gaggle of British and American club-crawling punk Godfathers, and it’s full of snarling but smart complaints and lamentations about dumb-ass Christians and greedy fucking Texas warlords and how “If you think you’re getting screwed, join the club!” The tasty minimum wage gruel of timeless rock, fuel-pungent gas station 70s folk and country, and it’s-fucking-late-I’m-out-of-here pub-punk, perfectly matches the kidney-punch of the working class poetry smoothly sung by several of the musicians.

Speaking of the musicians, it’s hard to believe that various Waco Brothers have been doing this for seven records, but Jon Langford (Mekons) sexily leads his band through these lucky thirteen songs about bad luck and bad faith, featuring Wreck’s Deano, Graham Parker’s drummer Stephen Goulding, mandolin player Tracy Dear, and the bass player from Jesus Jones (!-Alan Doughty) and Mark Durante, the steel guitarist from — KMFDM? The Revolting Cocks? What the fuck?!

Oh, what the hell — times have been weird for everyone, and we’re all in the same post-election shit-hole. Anyways, the Waco Brothers are coming to the Sunset Tavern on September 25th, and I wouldn’t miss it for anything. Just seeing Langford brings back for example the gorgeous raw energy of Joe Strummer at the Showbox a few years ago — these are the equivalent of blistered bluesmen, full of stinking anarchist urine from the most fermented swing-time wine. Don’t miss it, this guy’s a swanky goddamn comet, and just gets full of more roots-rock fire with each passing year.

The songs you’ll be hearing in a couple weeks will include the opening not-making-it-by-payday basher “Nothing At All,” the have-hope-or-die atheist-gospel flow of “It’s Amazing,” and especially “Chosen One,” one of Langford’s greatest rants ever (”Loaves & fishes — guns and drugs — cruel New Jerusalem — You’re faith is shaken, no mistaken — We’re only as strong as the drugs we’re taking”), feeling like something Dylan would have imbibed, scribed, and shrived for “Highway 61 Revisited” (seriously). In fact, the fed-up, mystical, religious-political melancholy of that classic rock album feels like a hurtful hangover all the way through Freedom And Weep.

It’s that good, that sad, and that NECESSARY.

Bumbershot:

…favourite leftie-socialist-cowboy-twang-collective has returned with what is actually their most non-“Waco” CD yet. Rest assured, our heroes are still fightin’ the good fight (can they do anything else? – bless you, boys!) but Freedom And Weep is the most accomplished piece of country-flavoured rock the band has put out yet. The Waco Brothers stopped …
Waco Brothers

Freedom And Weep – (Bloodshot)

Is that a Waco Brothers CD title, or what?

Our favourite leftie-socialist-cowboy-twang-collective has returned with what is actually their most non-“Waco” CD yet. Rest assured, our heroes are still fightin’ the good fight (can they do anything else? – bless you, boys!) but Freedom And Weep is the most accomplished piece of country-flavoured rock the band has put out yet. The Waco Brothers stopped being a loose novelty a few releases ago, but Freedom And Weep may be the culmination of that.

It’s not like these guys haven’t been playing for years (many know the drill –Mekon Jon Langford, ex-Rumour Steve Steve Goulding and so forth), but through songs like the opening anthem “Nothing At All” and the closing, uh, anthem “Join The Club” (yeah, they know how to put together fist-in-the-air songs) sound like a band with a roster that’s never played with anyone else. And with pedal steel no less.

Dean Schlabowske (who also heads up his own outfit, Dollar Store) and Tracey Dear offer the finer vocal performances here in songs like the aforementioned “Nothing At All” while Dear delivers on the actually pretty “I’ve Come A Long Way”. Of course, there’s familiar Waco territory in songs like “Lincoln Town Car” (“That’s the pride of Detroit, the pride of workers”) and Langford’s quotable all over “Chosen One” (“Your faith is shaking, there’s no mistaking, we’re only as strong, as the drugs we’re taking”). Of course, the state of country music doesn’t get overlooked either (“Drinkin’ And Cheatin’ And Death”).

The Waco Brothers continue to demonstrate that punk doesn’t own the privilege of getting pissed off - mixing it with a solid twang can work wonders as well.

Rocktimes (Germany):

Waco Brothers!
Wer denkt bei einem solchen Namen nicht gleich an eine Gunfighter-Gang, die von Allen gefürchtet, robust in ihrem Auftreten ist und doch irgendwie bewundert wird? Ihre Musik könnte exakt vor diesem Hintergrund gemacht worden sein.
“Freedom And Weep” reitet daher auf einem Gaul namens Country Rock. Die Fendergitarren schrabbeln mit einer verdammt lässigen Verzerrung und der Bass präsentiert seine Line mit der beschwingten Leichtigkeit eines Bisons. Die Waco Brothers performen ihre Songs übrigens trivocal und lassen dazu im Background die Pedal Steel in der Tonlage des Kojoten jaulen. COOL!
Keine Minute kommt Langeweile auf, genau wie bei einem Banküberfall in El Paso.
Von ihrer besten Seite präsentiert sich die Band immer dann, wenn sie im gestreckten Galopp durch die Prärie pflügt. Soll heißen: Die schnellen Nummern entwickeln eine besondere Note, nämlich das klassisches “Yeehaaa”-Feeling. Das eine oder andere Mal schimmern zwar die Drive-By Truckers durch die Arrangements, was aber durchaus als Kompliment begriffen werden sollte.
Insgesamt klingt “Freedom And Weep” wie das Hintergrundrauschen zu einer rasanten Postkutschen-Verfolgungsjagd, inklusive Achsenbruch, Skalpjägern und eine Fass Feuerwasser.
Die nicht immer völlig sattelfesten Vocals von Bandenchef Jon Langford und seinen Sidemen Deano und Tracey geben den Songs eine nützliche Raufboldatmosphäre. Wenn sie allerdings durch die Backgroundvocals Unterstützung finden, werden diese Passagen richtig gut.
Schwingt euch also auf die Schindmähren und hört in ein paar Songs rein:
Auf kaum einem privaten Party-Sampler der Country-Rock infizierten Randgruppe wird zukünftig das flotte “Nothing At All” fehlen. Im Grundriff klingen die Akkorde schön aus und die Pedal Steel johlt dazu euphorisch. Der eingängige Refrain wird spätestens ab 02:00 Uhr lauthals mit gegröhlt. Dieser Song ist eines der Dinger, die auch von den Drive-By Truckers stammen könnten.
Am Lagerfeuer, bei Sonnenuntergang und einer Kanne starken Kaffee, startet “Come A Long Long Way”. Die Strophen werden vom typischen Gitarrensound und der Pedal Steel untermauert. Ein Liedchen, um sehnsüchtig in den Westen zu gucken.
Mit Fast-Rider Rhythmik springt “Secrets” durch die Canyons. Die Snare wird von Lil’ Willy Goulding häufig frequentiert und wieder ist der Refrain das Gold Nugget in der Songmine. Aber auch das Gitarrensolo sticht ins Ohr. Rau im Sound, dabei aber ursprünglich und staubig.
Eine prächtige traditionelle Americana Roots Nummer liefern die Waco Brothers mit “It’s Amazing” ab. Die melancholische Stimmung der Rhythmusgitarre wird durch die eindringlichen Harmonika Akkorde noch verstärkt. Die Wacos lassen die Gitarren schön ruhig schnurren und legen den Schwerpunkt auf den Gesang. Dazu gesellen sich immer wieder die Harmonika- Fills.
So ein Ding wie “Drinkin’ & Cheating & Death” traute man bisher wohl am ehesten Country Dick Montana zu. Gott sei seiner Seele gnädig! Von Speed her liegt das Stück im mittleren Tachobereich. Gegen Ende gibt’s ein kleines Duell zwischen den Keyboards und der Gitarre.
In die gleiche Kerbe, nämlich in die einer flotten Beat Farmers Nummer, schlägt “Missing Link”. Das fehlende Glied swingt amtlich. Aber am besten daran ist wohl die Rhythmusgitarre. Es schringt und schrammt im Fendersound. Herrlich, scharf, kantig, unmodern und schroff.
Da draußen sind noch eine Menge Bands unterwegs, die man unbedingt mal auf einer Bühne erleben muss. Die Waco Brothers gehören dazu. Die Bilder auf der Fan-Web-Seite zeigen warum. Den Link gibt’s unten. Sie scheinen live mindestens so authentisch zu agieren wie auf Datenträger.

“Freedom an Weep” lohnt sich also nicht nur für ‘Lonesome Riders’. Für viele Stimmungen sind Songs darauf. Auch für Parties! Nicht für diesen steifen Cocktail Schwachsinn, bei dem beschlipste Schlaumeier so gerne ihre Lehrbuchweisheiten absondern, sondern für richtige Parties. Ihr wisst, welche ich meine.
Die Scheibe ist genreüblich produziert. Sie klingt so, wie es beabsichtigt wurde - nämlich ehrlich und ungeschliffen. Als Kopfgeld setzten wir sieben RockTimes- Uhren auf die Waco Brothers Bande aus.

Shepherd Express:

If there’s any one thing the Waco Brothers have proved since their 1995 debut, it’s that rollicking cow-punk can very well come from the minds and mouths of Englishmen.

On their latest effort, Freedom and Weep, the Waco Brothers—originally formed as a side project by the Mekons’ Jon Langford, one of three Brits and an Irishman in the six-man band—mash up twanging Americana and slurred, woeful punk into a high-octane attack that’s as undeniably fun as it is rough ‘n’ tumble.

It’s this take-no-prisoners attitude and double-guitar approach that lends the CD its edge, with “Nothing at All,” “Secrets” and “Missing Link” finding the band at its rowdy peak. Joe Camarillo drives much of the action with aggressive but well-timed shots at his drum kit. Tossing in the band’s politically aware lyrics, such as its take on the “master of disaster” currently residing in the White House (“Chosen One”), makes it impossible to write off the Wacos as just another ass-kicking barroom band.

Of course, their reputation as a must-see live act qualifies them for that distinction. But even when the Chicago-based band’s tunes get harder, the subject matter graver, and it seems like they’d be liable to drop the next unfortunate soul who throws a cockeyed glance their way, there’s an underlying sense that Freedom is supposed to be fun—that the next time the Wacos are in town drinks are on them.
—Dave Rossetti

Vital Source:

by Blaine Schultz
In 1965, Brian Jones insisted that Howlin’ Wolf play on the U.S. teenybopper television program “Shindig,” when his group, the Rolling Stones, appeared. This bitch slap effectively asked America: “This music was in your backyard all along. Why did you need us to tell you it was cool?”
Fast-forward to 1985. History repeats itself when U.K. punks, the Mekons, don thrift-store cowboy shirts and hand country music back to America with the album Fear and Whiskey. A decade later, Mekon Jon Langford – along with Milwaukee expatriate Dean Schlabowske and Tracy Dear riding shotgun – forms the Waco Brothers, a side project that takes a life of its own. This Chicago-based band has released a series of shit-kicker country-punk albums more in the spirit and attitude of vintage Bakersfield than Nashville’s gentility. The Wacos don’t claim to be some lithe bluegrass combo or pedigreed blue-harmony yodelers. This is equal parts thought-provoking and Saturday night music.
Freedom and Weep takes a typically pointed look at the climate in the early days of George W. Bush’s second term. It’s not difficult to read daily headlines into lyrics like “what if our history means nothing at all?” and “Daddy says I was the chosen one.” Likewise, the tune “Fantasy” draws on reality television shows. Yeah, things change. Nashville is the new Hollywood, complete with power ballads circa Def Leppard’s Hysteria serving as the template for a hit; the novelty of steel guitars and fiddles sprinkled as the pixie dust of authenticity.
With a fitting lack of subtlety, the tune “Missing Link” takes aim at the crossroads of faith, religion, science and common sense. In the end, history is going to be told by the winners, but there is always going to be a Waco Brother somewhere pointing out the emperor’s new clothes while he blows his tuneless trumpet. And when life just seems to make no sense at all, it’s comforting to realize we can count on the Wacos to pen inspired couplets like “Krakatowa east of Java/Smother me with molten lava.”

Nine Slices Of My Mid-Life Crisis Uncle Dave & The Waco Brothers

Nine Slices Of My Mid-Life Crisis

Uncle Dave & The Waco Brothers

Buried Treasures

SONGS:uncledavewaco

1. Where Does Love Go?
2. Future Mrs. Dave
3. West Side Wind
4. I Love You, Baby (And I Hate Myself)
5. Only Star
6. Long Day’s Journey
7. Table For One
8. Face Of The Earth
9. F.M.D. R.I.P.

Dave Herndon is an itinerant journalist who’s been knocking around New York for decades. Most of the songs on “Nine Slices of My Midlife Crisis” grew like fungus on the walls of Dave’s Cave, an undisclosed location that over the years provided several hundred bednights for touring Mekons and Waco Brothers; Dave was always a dutiful Mekoncierge. Someplace along in the early ’90s, Lonesome Bob taught Dave the rudiments (”Table for One” is the strange fruit of one of the Loner’s weekly homework assignments), and the debt of influence is obvious: name another twanger who talks about couples therapy. So it’s largely Bob’s fault. But mainly it’s Jon Langford’s. Every so often when the circus was in town, Dave would scrape a new tune off the walls, and one day Jonboy said something deep and thought out like, “We ought to record this shit.” So over the course of a few sessions in Chicago in 2002-3, Dave and Jon recorded the basic tracks, and then the Waco Brothers each added their own voices: Deano’s and Durante’s guitars took things in a Southern rock direction; Alan Daughty set some sort of record by putting down his bass parts in one two-hour blurt; Tracey “Future” Dear chirped like an insane chicken; and the drumming duties were shared by the Wacos’ Chicago-New York tag team of Joe Camarillo and Steve Goulding. Dave asked Jon to find a Charlie Rich piano for “Only Star,” and Barcley McKay delivered it. Sally Timms broke the gender barrier by dropping in and chirping a few lines to close out “Face of the Earth.”

Throw some cave songs into the Waco-izer and this is what you get: a tragicomic Battle Cry of the Lonely Guy, who wants to know where love goes when it’s gone, and at some point pokes his head out of the cave long enough to see that there’s a path that leads into the morning light.

“This turned out better than anybody expected it to,” said engineer extraordinaire Ken Sluiter. Maybe that’s because there were no expectations. But perhaps it was la Timms who put it best: “What I like about your record is that it doesn’t sound like anybody else,” she told Dave. “It’s singular. In twenty years somebody’s going to find it and say, ‘What the fuck was this guy on about?’ ”

- Unca Dave, New York, 2004

New Deal

wacodealSongs

01 Poison
02 No heart
03 In the honky tonk shadows
04 Johnson to Jones
05 Blink of an eye
06 New moon
07 Better everyday
08 Just no way
09 AFC song
10 New deal blues
11 I’m a ghost
12 The lie

wacodealbackWaco Cousins:

Dave Max Crawford & Paul Mertens pokey brass.Barcley McKay the well tickled ivories. Stacey Earkley: strident harmonies on Poison. Meanwhile the infamous Celine is fiddlin all over the place and Southside Joe Camarillo rattles the traps on The Lie.

Recorded by KenSsluiter at Western Sound Labs, Chicago except Johnson To Jones recorded at Schuba’s Tavern with Mike Knopka & the semi gods at metro Mobile

Produced by the Waco Brothers with Kengineer

Art by Jon Langford, Design by M Greiner, Photography by Di Kulka

wacodeal2Reviews:

http://www.ink19.com/issues/october2002/musicReviews/musicW/wacoBrothers.htm

For nearly a decade the spirits of Johnny Cash and Hank Williams have been riding aboard the runaway Waco express. Resurrecting all that was good about classic country and recasting it in an idiom of their, the Waco Brothers corroborate that a rich tradition has not fallen on deaf ears. With New Deal, they have again deftly juxtaposed sociopolitical consciousness with joviality, engendering more of the most rockin’ gallows humor for which the band has come to be known. Their raging, foot-thumping honky tonk take on the whimsical “Johnson To Jones,” a song about cradle-robbing (or, rather old-folks’ home robbing), is uproarious. Yet, as the deceptively somber “New Deal Blues” evinces, central is the concern for the common man: “It’s an early retirement/With cake and balloons/See no one here is sure just exactly what you do.” Similar themes are evoked in “The Lie,” whose solemnity is underscored by the wail of the pedal steel. It is this urgency of the human condition that has been long ignored by the glittery inanity of Nashville country… I mean pop.

The Waco Brothers refuse to play by the rules of the industry, whether mainstream or underground. In fact, it was this shared disillusionment with the rules of the game that propagated the band. While “alt.country” has become a generic signifier that encapsulates almost any band that proffers punk attitude with country sensibilities, the Waco Brothers seem a bit suspicious of such pigeonholing. In order to be even somewhat convincing, it takes a little more than a cowboy hat and some “yee-ha.” Unlike many of their contemporaries, the Waco Brothers make use of a more diverse musical palette, invoking the roots of tradition without being derivative or maudlin. “New Moon” is a straight up blues tune that keeps the listener’s head steadily nodding to its languid tempo. As the album’s first song
“Poison” (which features the “strident” vocal harmonies of Stacy Earle) avows: “Well, it’s time to pour poison where the crystal waters flow/Time to break wind where your shrinking violets grow…” Or, as what could easily be the band’s mission statement, “AFC” proclaims: “Alcohol, Freedom and a country song/I’ve been waiting way too long.” With country music (alt.country included) in such a dire state, New Deal offers a honky tonk interpretation of Cartesian theory: tear it down, only to build it up again.

Rob Walsh

pop matters:

JON LANGFORD’S DEAL

by Jesse Fox Mayshark
PopMatters Music Critic

http://www.popmatters.com/music/interviews/langfordjon-021104.shtml

In some ways, it’s a lousy time to be a politically astute left-wing rock ‘n’ roller. Even in the wake of the biggest corporate meltdowns in history, the money men are still driving everything from fuel efficiency standards to foreign policy to the Top 40. The only honest liberal left in the United States Senate just died in a plane crash. John Ashcroft is reading your e-mail. Yup, things are grim.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad time to be Jon Langford. At once the most committed and least didactic of agit-rockers, the burly Welshman has responded to the gloom of 2002 with customary brio. He doesn’t mind cursing the darkness, but he’s also lit enough candles for a midnight Mass. He followed this summer’s release of the anti-death-penalty compilation Executioner Songs, which he produced, with OOOH!, the latest release from his longtime outfit the Mekons. And on the heels of a celebrated 25th anniversary Mekons tour (culminating in a three-night stand in New York City, with every night dedicated to a different phase of the band’s meandering career), he’s back with his other band, the Waco Brothers. Their sixth album, New Deal Blues, landed in late October to some of the best
reviews of the Wacos’ career. So how does he do it all?

Speaking by phone from the Chicago studio where he paints (he paints too, did I mention that?), Langford gives the verbal equivalent of a shrug. “It’s
what I do, for one thing,” he says. “And we didn’t have an album out for about 18 months. We didn’t have anything out from September 2000 on.” He’s also quick to point out that, despite the tendency to see him as first among equals, all of his projects are full collaborations. There are three other singer-writers in the Mekons (Tom Greenhalgh, Rico Bell and the magnificent Sally Timms), and two in the Waco Brothers (Deano Schlabowske and Tracey Dear). And given the cult status of both, Langford’s hardly worried about flooding the market. “I don’t really think about that,” he says — albums are done when they’re done.

The Waco Brothers have often been seen as a hobby band, but it’s a view Langford resists — not least because he actually spends more time with the Wacos than the Mekons. “It’s my Chicago band, you know,” he says, referring to his adopted hometown. “It’s the main thing we do in town. The Mekons don’t get together more than once a year.”

Since their 1995 debut, the Waco Brothers have become a Windy City mainstay — they were one of the charter bands on the alt.country indie label Bloodshot (one of the most important stables for that ill-defined genre), and Langford has served as an affable mentor to a number of regional acts. On a recent episode of public radio’s This American Life (also based in Chicago) Langford used the “musicians wanted” classified ads in a local paper to put together an impromptu band (including a theremin player) and recorded a cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.”

His congenital prankishness notwithstanding, Langford takes his music seriously — including the music of the Waco Brothers, who have been around long enough now to shake off any notions of honkytonk novelty. Langford sounds pleased to note that prominent critics like Robert Christgau and Greil Marcus (both longtime Mekons fans) have praised the Wacos. “Over the last few albums, I think people have taken us more seriously as a band, and not just a side project with me and a couple of my stooges in Chicago,” he says.

He’s especially glad for attention paid to Schlabowske, whose Stonesy swagger provides some of the high points on New Deal. “I find his songs endless fascinating,” Langford says. “He comes up with stuff I don’t expect.”

The album is a ragged, rollicking slab of gristle and sawdust, with — as the title indicates — a keen sense of its time and place. The de facto title track, “New Deal Blues,” surveys the current economic landscape with a withering eye. The song starts out with the lines, “Going out of business / Everything must go”, and it only gets more dire from there. “We’ve got another New Deal now,” Langford says, “but it’s not like the old New Deal.”
This time around, the cards aren’t evenly distributed. “America, I don’t know,” he continues, “for reasons I don’t understand it seems to be surging back to the right. How Bush can be so popular at a time when his cronies have been bleeding the fucking country dry . . . ”

Not all the tracks on New Deal are so pointed; there are lost loves and new moons and towns with no heart. But there is an overall sense of defiance. If
the clampdown is coming, the Wacos aren’t going quietly. “Time to break wind where your shrinking violets grow,” Langford sneers on the conservative-baiting “Poison”. Elsewhere, the Wacos promise to “pump some new blood through the veins / Of cowboy hats and leather boys”. That effort is helped considerably by freewheeling performances and production that gets close to sounding like a juke-joint P.A. system. Langford says most of the songs were done in one or two takes. “There’s a lot about the band as a live band that I think is one of our strengths,” he says. “I think people have
sometimes been a little disappointed with our records, because they haven’t felt that excitement that comes through in the live show. It’s a difficult
thing to capture.”

This time out, the band also sidestepped as much as possible any genre limitations. Although there’s plenty of honky-tonkin’, and one track yearns for “alcohol, freedom and a country song”, the Waco Brothers are really a flat-out rock ‘n’ roll band. “We got a bit bored with the alternative-country thing,” Langford says. “The whole ‘Waco Brothers booze-tinged blah blah blah.’” At the end of the day, Langford seems less interested in what people call the band, or what they hear in the lyrics, than how much fun the whole thing is. “I don’t see the band as really a big message band,” he says. “I think it’s a very entertaining band, and if
people want more, there’s more there.” Even if we’re all going to hell in a sports utility vehicle, Langford maintains a rugged pragmatism about how much you can expect from rock ‘n’ roll. “You have to be realistic about what a pop group can achieve,” he says. “How much good did Live Aid really do in the end? You know, except to rekindle a lot of people’s fucking careers . .
. ”

Old Dogs, New Deal

The Waco Brothers are almost impossible to resist. Their rambling, shambling honky-tonk rock ‘n’ roll is so unapologetically derivative and at the same time so heartfelt, all you can do is hoist a longneck beer in appreciation.

The on-again off-again band, one of several projects of Mekons co-founder Jon Langford, is on again with New Deal, their sixth release. As before, we get a collection of Saturday night lives — people down on their luck, up a creek, and trying to make it by on “alcohol, freedom, and a country song”. If anything’s changed, it’s a simple matter of age: where Langford and company’s rawhide rock might have once seemed a tad affected (Langford is, after all, a former art student punk, and Welsh to boot), they now inhabit this domain with the grizzled assurance of a thousand sozzled nights in sawdust bars. They’ve even been declared the unofficial house band of Austin’s SXSW festival.

The astoundingly prolific Langford is much in evidence on New Deal (this is his third album of the year, following the Mekons’ OOOH and an anti-death-penalty compilation under the Pine Valley Cosmonauts rubric — and that’s not counting his painting and art exhibits). But his cohorts Deano Schlabowske and Tracey Dear also chip in with hell-raising tunes and whiskey-tinged vocals. Mekons drummer Steve Goulding is along as usual, and he and bass player Alan Doughty (of Jesus Jones — yes, that Jesus Jones) provide relentless chug-a-lug rhythm. Meanwhile, Mark Durante’s pedal steel makes the weepers weep
like they oughta.

What’s striking about New Deal is how often the Wacos not only call to mind their influences but actually do them proud. Their several Stones rips (”New Moon”, “The Lie”, “New Deal Blues”) are much more convincing descendants of Exile on Main Street than anything Jagger and Richards have written in 20 years. And much of the rest is the kind of punky roots music Joe Strummer has been trying and failing to perfect ever since the Clash imploded. It’s enough to make you wonder if one of the things that has kept Langford and the rest of Mekons’ extended family so energetic for so long is their relative obscurity — success never had a chance to spoil them. (The Mekons’ recent 25th anniversary tour certainly seemed to bear that out — the band may be “old and fat” as
Langford proudly proclaimed from the stage, but they still rock with a conviction that puts most of the junior generation to shame.)

And this being Langford, the raucous sing-alongs on New Deal can’t help but include a little more than your average somebody-done-somebody-wrong songs. The opener, “Poison”, is a shot across the bow of smug techo-conservatism. Langford cannily critiques the insularity of cyber-culture, the way it allows people to hole up in their homes and only communicate with like minds. “Cultures clash and the rules all break and bend”, Langford snarls, “You’re sharing false
notions with your new conservative friends / Riding out on-line from the corner you defend”. His remedy is agreeably uncouth: “Time to break wind where your shrinking violets grow / You’ve got a one-party state of mind / It’s your party, but I don’t want to go”. “New Deal Blues” is a timely tabulation of recessionary hardships, and “The Lie” sounds like it might be about a certain leader of the free world (”A builder of bridges to nowhere / First puppet on the moon / They all call you junior”). Elsewhere, the fare is more traditional: “honky tonk shadows”, ghosts of past loves, losers, and losses. The bottom line is,
there are a lot of people out there in the alt-country realm trying to do this stuff, but few who do it with as much brains or heart as the Waco Brothers.

— 18 October 2002

From: http://blogcritics.org/archives/2002/11/22/131909.php

Waco Brothers, New Deal
Even if I wasn’t predisposed toward ‘em, I’d probably cozy up to the Waco Brothers’ new CD release, New Deal (Bloodshot), after hearing its opening cut. Set to an insistent country blues rhythm, “Poison” contains what can only be a telling put-down of insular blog life:

“You want to make friends but you never leave your home Tapping out a message in the corner on your own. . . You’re sharing false notions with your new conservative friends Riding out on-line from the corner you defend.” Enjoy yer new sheltered life, head Waco Jon Langford is saying to a former club-goer. But none for me, thanx. “It’s your party, but I don’t wanna go. . .”

I’m uncritically fond of the Waco Bros. Three guitarists (Langford, Dean Schlabowske & Mark Durante), mandolin player Tracy Dear and pub rock vet Steve Goulding: true heirs to the wasted rock/country promise of Workingman’s Pigpen, Beggars Banquet Stones plus early Burrito Bros. Look at their tiny pics in the CD booklet and you see a buncha middle-aged wrecks, yowling into their mikes w./ the unrepentant rage of lefties who’ve made it into adulthood neither compromising their beliefs nor their humanity. Just the fact that these guys keep going is enough to make me smile. That they keep getting better ‘n’ better at
their wracked-up squalling is a minor miracle.

Though New Deal opens and closes w./ country poliscreeds - finale “The Lie” would seem to be taking on G.W., the privileged politico (”A builder of bridges to nowhere . . . They all call you junior”) - much of the disc is devoted to the more trad hard times themes of mainstream c-&-w, skewed thru the Wacos’ p.o.ed punk perspective, of course. “New Deal Blues” evokes the new recession: rough and rueful, full of sinuous guitarwork, angry and barely controlled, the kind of song that tells you why onetime punks like Langford would gravitate to this music. “No Heart” is a rockin’ plaint (great pedal steel from Durante) about
struggling in Chicago, the city that’s been the Wacos’ home base from the beginning.

Even the group’s shambollic cover of the Wiley Brothers’ “Johnson to Jones” (first heard by me on Marshall Crenshaw’s seminal anthology, Hillbilly Music, Thank God!) is about marrying someone older for money. Where the original version was smoothly and matter-of-factly sung, the words of a country gigolo, as Deano sings ‘em you can hear the desperation. This guy, you just know, is getting hitched so he can cover a passel of bad checks.

Other offerings, like “Gone In A Blink of An Eye” (happily reminiscent of the Standells’ “Why Pick On Me”), are more obliquely pissed, while a few cuts even venture into busted romanceville (e.g., “I’m A Ghost,” which manages to combine self-pity and Robyn Hitchcockian gothic imagery without compromising either). Through it all, the Wacos’ off-kilter take on 21st century life remains, niggling in the listener’s ear. Even a seemingly innocuous drunkard’s song like “Honky Tonk Shadows” seems to be about more than the usual self-pitying lament thanks to Langford’s Strummer-esque moaning.

Midpoint into the disc, our boys offer a small nugget of cautious optimism, “Better Everyday,” a bouncy country tune w./ a chorus that asserts how much better things have been getting for the singer. Good for you, you think, ’til you realize that the narrator in the song is probably singing from beyond the grave (”Good, better, best/Time I laid this world to rest.”) Ah, those wacky Wacos. Keep on a-rantin’, boys - these days we need ya more than ever!

http://www.powerpop.org/shakeitup/reviews/wacobrothers.htm
Everyone’s favourite socialist honky-tonkers are back with New Deal (I guess they don’t have a whole lot of competition in that category) and while it may seem like more of the same, they nevertheless continue to satisfy.

Many of us already know the story - about the Waco Brothers being misplaced Englishmen that somehow found their country hearts in Chicago, Illinois. We all may have expected ruthless parody, but
instead the Wacos have put their political beat to a reverent brand of country that is as earnest as it is accomplished, hitting a high point with 2000’s Electric Waco Chair (an end to the death penalty is a cause close to the band). I mean, hey, they practically invented the notion of insurgent country music.

The band continues to marry their bold statements to musical expertise with New Deal, and prove this right out of the gate with the swaying Poison and with their rollicking statement of purpose in the AFC Song (that would be alcohol, freedom, and a country song of course). To keep things interesting, the Wacos bring an eastern Europe feel to Blink Of
An Eye to great effect and No Heart could very well be the downright catchiest thing the band has ever done.

The band clearly has some fun on their rendition of Johnson To Jones continuing to showcase what a plain-old-good-time the band can be. More arresting, however, is the funky vibe of Just No Way with it’s choppy rhythm and busy bass. The Waco Brothers are simply great musicians, and they can pull such excursions off.

Essential country that’ll hit the spot every time.

http://www.jsonline.com/onwisconsin/music/nov02/93639.asp

Jon Langford is one of the most prolific artists working in alt-country today. His latest effort with the Waco Brothers, “New Deal,” marks the third album he has released this year, along with the Pine Valley Cosmonauts’ “The Executioner’s Last Songs” and “OOOH!” by the Mekons.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that Langford substitutes quality for quantity, though - the Waco Brothers are as dependable as any act in rock when it comes to delivering the goods.

Every Waco Brothers album is full of songs loosely divided into two categories: those about drinking and loneliness, and those about murder and politics. “New Deal” is no exception, and every song is a
toe-tapper to boot.

The rollicking hoedown of “In the Honky Tonk Shadows” and the pedal-steel lament of “New Moon” satisfy the drunk-and-lonely quotient, while Langford and co-lead singer (and Muskego native) Dean Schlabowske use “Blink of an Eye” and “The Lie” to criticize the current presidential administration and invoke the murder ballads found on the Cosmonauts’ “The Executioner’s Last Songs.” “Just No Way” is one of the Wacos’ pop detours - Langford seems to be channeling Paul McCartney - and his voice nearly hides the fact that the narrator is a schizophrenic murderer.

In a year when a number of established alt-country acts expanded the genre, with fine results (Wilco, Neko Case, to name two), the Waco Brothers reinforce the if-it-ain’t-broke maxim. “New Deal” is the real deal.

- Stephen Haag, Hartford Courant

What’s this all about???
http://cuantoyporquetanto.com/elproyecto/musica/resenas/wacobrothers.htm

nte todo hay que ser sinceros, en nuestro país el country nos importa un pimiento, a excepción de la época en que nos metieron hasta en la sopa al vaquero Garth Brooks, pocos artistas ó grupos han triunfado por nuestras tierras. Basta fijarnos en los pocos grupos españoles que se han influenciado de este estilo musical, y cuando alguno lo hace parece que es de cachondeo, hablo por ejemplo de Coyote Dax y su canción del verano ” No rompas mas mi pobre corazón..” con la que la mayoría de consumidores de música de terracita de verano, se ponían las manos enganchadas en los cinturones y meneaban el culito cual gallinas ponedoras, lo más triste es que seguro que se pensarían que el tema era del “gran artista” Coyote, cuando era una versión de un clásico en Estados Unidos como Billy Ray Cyrus… ¡lamentable!

“New Deal” de los Waco Brothers es puro country, aunque a medida que avanza el trabajo se notan otras influencias que van desde la tradición americana, pasando por folk y acabando incluso en rock.

La primera parte del trabajo esta bañada por influencias Nashville pero según van pasando las canciones al Sr. Langford se le va viendo la vena rockera, no en vano empezó en esto con un grupo punk, llamado los Mekons; Así que en “Blink of an eye”, notamos un poco de rock en nuestros oídos, es el caso también de “AFC Song” con cambio de voces y un ritmo mucho más pegadizo, y en “New deal song” que incluso nos recuerda por su voz al mismísimo Mick Jagger, y la composición la podría firmar el gran Tom Petty y es que nos recuerda a la América mas profunda.

El disco te traslada a escenarios de famosas películas americanas, te puedes imaginar dentro de sus bares de carretera, al estilo de “Oh Brothers” ó “Thelma y Louise”, porque hay estilos muy variados, y es
que “New Moan” es un blues autentico y “Just no way” parece un tema de los británicos Beautiful South, con ramalazos Housemartins.

Por lo tanto, aunque no te guste el country, este disco lo puedes escuchar tranquilamente porque contiene muchas mas cosas.

http://www.dreamwater.com/blueelf/tuneup112202.htm

BY STEVE TERRELL
Originally published in The Santa Fe New Mexican on 11/22/2002

New Deal by The Waco Brothers

Only a couple of months after Jon Langford’s “main band” The Mekons released their finest album in who knows how many years — OOOH! (Out of Our Heads), Langford’s “side band” The Waco Brothers have come out with their strongest album since 1997’s Cowboy in Flames.

While Langford may be the prime spiritual force behind the group, the Wacos feature two other good vocalists, Tracy Dear (“The world’s greatest living Englishman”) and Dean Schlabowske and a high-octane band that never ceases to amaze.
The Wacos’ fierce sets at South by Southwest in the past six years have earned them the reputation as an essential part of that spring festival, and in fact one of the finest live bands of this troubled
era. Plus they’ve got to be the world’s most loveable debauched communists.

Like any great live group the Wacos sometimes have difficulty translating their live energy onto studio tracks. However that doesn’t seem to be the case on New Deal. They’re playing like they mean it here and each player is in top form.

Steel guitarist Mark Durante and, on many cuts a guest fiddler identified only as Celine, stand out, emphasizing the “country” in “insurgent country” — a tag coined by Langford.

As the lyrics go in one song, “In the honky tonk shadows, there’s a gleam of light.”

Also Langford and the lads are articulating their political outrage more clearly than they have in years.

As the Depression era title implies there are images of economic despair throughout - “paper in the windows, boards across the doors,” Also environmental ruin (“Well it’s time to pour poison where the
crystal waters flow” Langford sings in “Poison”), yuppie arogance and political repression. “There ain’t no heart left in this town,” Deano laments.

Some songs are aimed directly at another “Waco brother” of sorts, the currrent resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

“The president’s just half a man, riding in some giant hand,” Langford spits in “Blink of an Eye.” Even more damning is “The Lie” in which Deano sings, “To the manor born/A silver spoon in your nose/ … A builder of bridges to nowhere … They all call you `junior’ ”

(The Wacos never have been easy on U.S. presidents. Remember “Dollar Bill the Cowboy” and “See Willie Fly By” — still my favorite Waco tune — from the Clinton era?)

But there’s hints of redemption here — “The AFC Song” not only praises the liberating salve of “Alcohol, freedom and a country song,” but raises the possibility that there is the potential for subversion
therein. “File those old teeth down to little points.

These old teeth are still mighty sharp.

http://www.galleryofsound.com/pages/type1u.asp?StoryID=1248&GENRE=2

Saving Country Music From Itself

The Waco Brothers steel themselves to resurrect the traditions of
American country music.

by J. Poet

Chicago’s Bloodshot Records bills itself as the “Home of Insurgent Country Music,” and The Waco Brothers may be the most insurgent act on the label. The Wacos’ latest offering, New Deal, is a searing combination of drunken Saturday night rave up music and dark Woody-Guthrie-on-belladonna lyrics that go straight to the secret heart of darkness in America’s bosom. The fact that four of the Wacos-including songwriter, guitarist and frequent spokesperson Jon Langford-grew up in England may be partially responsible for their keen appreciation of the hard-core, honky tonk sound that fuels their high energy Cash-meets-Clash approach to one of America’s most unique art forms.

“I never heard real country music-George Jones, Buck Owens-growing up in England,” Langford recalled. “When I did it was a real shock. They were like punks; they didn’t put a barrier between themselves and their audience. They sang real songs about real people in real situations. The best punk and the best country addresses the lives of the working class peer groups that helped create and support it. Country had a working class feel that you didn ‘t get in English music, at least before punk.

“After moving to America, I felt that understanding the soul of Hank Williams was crucial to understanding the American psyche. Hank, Merle Haggard, Johnny Paycheck, Ernest Tubb and others wrote about the everyday lives of everyday people in a way that was quite radical, and took those ideas to the mainstream. But by the ’90s they’d been replaced by white suburban rock musicians wearing cowboy hats. Today’s country music is fantasy music, like most pop.”

It was a desire to hear and play real-i.e. pre-Garth-country music that led Langford to form The Waco Brothers with drummer Steve Goulding, bass player Alan Doughty, guitarists Dean Schlabowske and Mark Durante and mandolin player Tracy Dear. Langford and Goulding had been founding members of the Mekons, a punk band with country/Americana leanings, but the Wacos were honed in on traditional country, partially because it enhanced their ability to earn beer money, or so the story goes.

“It wasn’t all that serious at first,” Langford confessed. “We were doing mostly covers of songs we liked, and changing the name of the band every time we played. The Waco Brothers was the name we used the first time we drew a decent crowd that seemed to like us, so we thought we’d keep that name for a while. We didn’t think of it as having anything to do with [the 1993 Branch Davidian confrontation with the FBI in Waco, Texas]. The darker, sicker members of the band may have thought about it, but [Waco Brothers] wasn’t a comment on a shameful event, it was just a name that sounded like Texas.”

When Bloodshot offered them a record deal, the band got serious and started producing originals that combined the manic twang of Bakersfield with lyrics that had a distinctly Brit-punk approach. “We’re attuned to the politics of everyday life,” Langford admits, “but in songwriting there’s a line you can’t step over without the music sounding ugly and futile. A discrete approach is better; describe the situation-no matter how hopeless-without saying ‘You have to smash the system,’ which gets into fantasy music.”

http://pulse.towerrecords.com/contentStory.asp?contentId=5899

The Wacos include Mekons Jon Langford and Steve Goulding, former Jesus Jones bass player Alan Doughty, guitarists Dean Schlabowske and Mark Durante, and British mandolin player Tracey Dear. On New Deal, they give us another batch of tunes that marry the manic twang of Bakersfield with lyrics that sport a decidedly Brit-punk approach. There’s a little more cow and a little less punk this time out; fiddle and pedal steel come through in the mix, but the raging energy and in-your-face delivery remain intact. The vitriolic “Poison” could be a message to the Nashville establishment, its criticism leavened by its over-the-top humor. “New Deal Blues,” “The Lie” and “Blink of an Eye” deal with the current business downturn through the eyes of the
working class blokes who always bear the brunt of every market crash, while “I’m a Ghost” and “Better Everyday” sound like Johnny Paycheck on a punk bender.

By j. poet<

Washington Post on the Wacos

A Quick Spin
Wednesday, October 30, 2002; Page C05

NEW DEAL
The Waco Brothers

The Waco Brothers are not from that infamous Texas town, nor are they brothers. What we have here is a band of post-punk Chicagoans led by Brit Jon Langford, lead singer of the still-viable and as-acerbic-as-always Mekons. Langford started the Wacos to satisfy his sincere fondness for American roots music, and these days it’s getting harder to tell which is his side gig. “New Deal,” the Wacos’ sixth album since 1995, finds the loose and ragged band in high spirits, with guitars and pedal steels a-blazing on some of their best songs yet.

Many of the songs seem to be about living the renegade life, although “Johnson to Jones” is a whimsical punk-country description of a December-May relationship
(she’s 65, he’s 23), and “I’m a Ghost” somewhat traditionally addresses the passing of a relationship.

The diverse instrumentation on “New Deal” enlivens things immensely.It’s clear most of the players are from rock bands. A lilting piano opens “Poison,” but by the song’s end a sneaky and propulsive brass section has taken over; mandolin and fiddle easily snake in and out of songs, always in welcome support. Sometimes the Wacos suggest a horseback-borne “Sticky Fingers”-era Rolling Stones — the bluesy, steel-drenched “New Moon” is a cousin of “Dead Flowers” — but “Blink of an Eye” sounds like the Clash channeled through Cash.
“New Deal” is the real deal.

– Buzz McClain

Philadelphia Weekly - pick of the week (Feb 1st 2003)

Jon Langford & His Sadies, Waco Brothers

Longtime Mekons ringmaster Jon Langford doesn’t fancy rest-cures. Close on the heels of that group’s 100th record, OOOH! (or Out of Our Heads), Langford returns with new records from two of his extracurricular pursuits. The Mayors of the Moon, recorded with Toronto band the Sadies, is a winning collection of folk and galloping rockabilly. Langford’s sawdust voice can make a word as awkward as “pedantic” fit snugly inside a pop song, and songs like the blistering “American Pageant” have all the sweat and swagger of the Clash. New Deal, Langford’s sixth album with his group Waco Brothers, is even brasher–full of stomp, growl, square-dance violin and rodeo bass. Langford will be fronting both bands at a spectacular double-bill at the North Star, making for an evening that merges punk bravado with the grit of Americana. (J. Edward Keyes)

Wacoworld

waco1Songlist:

01 Nothing at all
02 Chosen few
03 Come a long way
04 Secrets
05 How fast the time
06 Lincoln town car
07 It’s amazing
08 On the sly
09 Drinkin & cheatin & death
10 Fantasy
11 Missing link
12 Rest of the world
13 Join the club

wacobro2Lyrics:

PIGSVILLE

have you ever been to pigsville, honey?
listened to cold water in the mountains of steel shavings
did you get drunk at the wheelhouse, honey?
stealing fifths of whiskey
when you thought noone was listening
nothing you’ve done to feel ashamed of

have you ever been to pigsville, honey?
like you did someething evil but the memory is fuzzy
did you wake up on the carpet, honey?
next to that chalk outline, next to impossible
no, there’s nothing you’ve done to feel ashamed of

HELLO TO EVERYBODY

say hello to everybody
won’t you say hello for me
you see I can’t go back and forth no more
at least physically
standing on the hill in tess’ corners
waiting for the aliens
to take me to a warmer planet
where there is no consequence
sometimes you treat your friendships
like some kind of pyramid scheme
do you get some kind of bonus
for everyone you reel in?

say hello to everybody
won’t you say hello for me
from now on i’ll just imagine
i’m in the perfect company
it was coming down in buckets
so i duck into the dew drop inn
i always keep one eye on the door
you never know, you could spot a friend
when they fit me for my casket
what will they say about me?
“he met a lot of beautiful places
and he loved a lot of interesting things”
say hello to everybody
won’t you say hello for me
say hello

FIRE DOWN BELOW

In the texas whirlwind
with the robber’s tag
we did the grapevine twist
and the one night stand
square pegs in a round world
when it all comes down
nowhere else to go
fire down below

she had graveyard eyes
and bedroom tears
twisted sheets and irrational fears
she had a bleeding heart
and soft money to blow
nowhere else to go
fire down below

fire down below

poor poor barbarians
all busting chains
sweating bullets
back in the saddle again
we swallow the hook
and we lit the flames
nowhere else to go
fire down below

RED BRICK WALL

i’m standing in the alley with my hands on a red brick wall
seems the more i claim i’m innocent
the guiltier i become
since you left me baby, i’m never where i belong
seems no matter how i try
i just can’t stay out of wrong

got my hands behind my back
cuffs on my wrist
forget what i said earlier, baby
i’m not into this
standing in the alley with my hands on a red brick wall
seems the more i claim i’m innocent
the guiltier i become
on the day of his death i built jfk a shrine
i know just how he felt
i get murdered in texas everytime

THE HAND THAT THROWS THE BOTTLE DOWN

i had long suspected that we’d better be prepared
to give up on the notion that someone really cared
‘cos we’re walking in the daylight with the odds all stacking up
the hand that throws the bottle down won’t pick it back again

there goes the winner but the race was rigged
feel like a loser? well the fright was fixed
i don’t believe in fairplay and i don’t believe in luck
the hand that throws the bottle down won’t pick it back again

if i was born into the fast lane i’d go rollin on through
and you know i’m never ever going to slow down for you
i’ll be looking at a house that costs a million bucks
with a secret little doorway and a ladder i’d pull up

to protect their money men built banks
to protect the money they bought guns and tanks
the barrels are smoking and the chambers are hot
they’re no better than us they just got the better shot

with one arm tied behind the target on your back
you were born to take the fall you were bred to hit the mat
don’t expect a helping hand from someone up above
the hand that throws the bottle down won’t pick it back again

REGRETS

this world could never find me a place
i can’t make it long without being a disgrace
i’ve poured the whole bottle down my neck
and fallen on my face
this world could never find me a place

i’m gonna go out now and make some more regrets
i’m gonna take out anybody’s face that fits
i’ll drink that whole bottle of whiskey down
then smash it all to bits

i’m gonna go out now and make some more regrets
can’t say i never liked to lose a fight
but you crippled me with what you said last night
i’ll get that cheating friend of mine
and then i’ll set you right
can’t say i ever liked to lose a fight

TRAIN BACK IN TIME

please don’t cry little girl
this train goes back in time
returning to the station
returning there tonight

“go away from me, mister
save your cheer for someone else
tomorrow’s gone forever
like some long forgotten wealth”

although it’s hard to believe
you’ve been showing all the signs
returning to the station
this train goes back in time

DAY OF THE DEAD

the day of the dead is 24 hours long
the day of the dead is over for me
so sugar sweet, covered with flowers
and little white shells washed up by the sea

yes it’s all over, so make a decision
give up the ghosts now, the ashes and clay
come on over make a decision
pas like a shadow from night into day

gently gently, you’re moving over
out of the new world back into the last
all precious treasures we stood to inherit
are frozen in bank vaults somewehere in the past

when the dark of night fed you, when the sky clouded over
I could see your glass tremble, the limitless waste
so turn your back on tomorrow and that long black train rolling
pass like a shadow from night into day

BROKEN DOWN ROW

take your hand off the deadbolt don’t leave
wipe the tears from your eyes
cos i am not your enemy
can’t you see through my disguise
this cocaine’s got me ugly again i know
i was walking down the middle of the street
down a broken down row

saw an old friend i knew long ago
who had taken his sad life
said he couldn’t see an end to the pain
the struggling and strife
tripped on a curb turned round where did he go?
i was just coughing and spitting alone
on broken down row

these streets will be the death of me
if the bars don’t get me first
and i won’t get no better, oh no
before i get much worse
but now i know i love you, yes i know
please help me change my life
i can’t move down a broken down row

GOOD FOR ME

i know what’s good for me
i know what’s good but sometimes it’s good
to do all the other things
i know the preacher’s name
i know his name but nobody’s saying
don’t believe in what you see

i stole your heart
and i’m not giving it back
put it away in a shiny brass box
i stole your heart

cantina diablo
the walls are bright red, someone said
i can always find you there
devil be good to me
i know what’s good but sometimes it’s good
to do all the other things

CORRUPTED

i am so corrupted
i’m in partnership
with all the guilty treasures
that will sink this rusty ship
all the sinful cargo
that has dared to call my name
before it sends me back down
into the earth from which i came

red is the colour
of the city i call home
it’s the colour of the sky
above the streets where i roam
where now is the hour
and the hour is always late
the future’s a distraction
the past is a big mistake

he’ll take the hindmost
that devil in me
he’ll be the death
of my responsibilities
a leap in the dark
something over the hill
the devil may care
but i don’t think i will

raise your glass. raise your voice
and raise the dead
life’s run by too fast
too paint it anything but red
for a life of sin for a life of sin for a life of sin
there’s no calm before the storm that’s rollin in
in the crack of dawn in the dead of night
in the crack of doom
there’ll be peace in the valley on the dark side of the moon
on the day that i was born
no one gave me a map
but life can be a maze
yeah and life can be a trap
i’m a red rag to all the bull
i’m soaked in blood and wine
but i’ll paint myself back out
of this corner everytime

NORTHWOODS

old growth gives way to fertile valleys
are you lonely in the house you built
the city - it reeks of history
it’s so dramatic - insignificant

i was born
foot in my mouth
i was born
a little too far south
maybe we could stray off course for good
in the northwoods

tall trees, tall buildings and little taverns
are you lonely in the house you built?
they say the great ones all have premonitions
and i believe what i see at night

old growth gives way to fertile valleys
are you lonely in the house you built
and now they’re boarding up the project
could you be content?
is it finally enough?

FAMOUS LAST WORDS

out like a light in the dark of day
a phrase you repeated and then tossed away
feel the movement over water, the blade through the swell
a taxi driving slowly, backwards into hell
a grey light is flashing through the lashes to my brain
like bars on the window of the room where i lay

from the snap button shirt a pearly eye winks
red round the edges rolling backwards as we sink
the whiskey won’t drink me the song will not sing
the bed will ot sleep and we don’t feel a thing
can i tell you my friend, can i call you again
famous last words this is the end

Go to the top drown in my beer, soak me in wine
that’s why they called bars,’cos they keep me inside

Reviews:

Bloodshot says:

The hardest working (and hardest drinking) men in insurgent country return to the fray with a righteous attitude and a whole new slew of aces up their fringed sleeves. These songs are THICK, baby!! Coming across as the Rabid Country Bear Jamboree, the Brothers are programmed to smite until all country/alternative music poseurs are left torn and writhing in their wake.
WacoWorld kicks out over a dozen brand new whiskey and datachip fueled anthems, and features the crusading work of converts Rick “Cookin” Sherry (Devil in a Woodpile), Kelly Hogan, and Poi Dog Pondering’s horn section. The Waco Brothers deliver WacoWorld as a glimpse into the future of insurgent country–as it continues to define itself and stretch out big enough to include seemingly disparate influences like Hank Williams, Mick and Keith, Jimmy Cliff, and Morphine. The spirits are there—you just have to open a bottle and open your mind.

The beauty of it is the way the pieces all fit together. WacoWorld is lean and mean, like a boxer who’s spent weeks in training for the big fight. It’s primed, ready and it smells blood. When you listen to the Wacos, you can hear bits of other bands : Mick & Co, the Mekons , Hank Sr, and the great country soul bands of Memphis and places south. But what comes out could never be anyone other than the Waco Brothers; they’ve become much more than a sum of their influences. You can’t aim for timelessness, but if the ingredients are right, you might achieve it. And on “Waco World” the Waco Brothers have hit it spot on”
Chris Nickson, The Rocket

“You can’t line dance to the Waco Brothers, thank God - the appropriate listening posture is leaning against a bar, holding a drink in one hand and giving the Man the finger with the other.”
George Zahora, Splendid e-zine

“The Wacos deliver their dark, driving country-rock with all the delicacy of butchers on a bender.”
Chicago Tribune

“The Wacos’ latest puts the surge in insurgent country…these scrappy, rocking tales of wine, whiskey, women, and woe are as sharp and edgy as a broken bottle.”
Darryl Sterdan, Winnipeg Sun

“Pogues-y, piss ‘n’ vinegar hard country rock that remains great fun whether the subject at hand is broken hearts or broken bars. [The result is] just short of an hour’s worth of boozy tunes just beggin’ for a joint to blow the roof off of.”
The Stranger

“Their music is ten times more real than any cosmetically enhanced face on the country charts. If bands like the Waco Brothers ultimately wind up saving the heart and soul of country music for the 21st century, don’t say I didn’t tell you so.”
Manny Theiner, Pittsburgh Gazette

“Here, the band makes music that would fit neatly into the catalogs of the Pogues, Nick Cave, or The Faces; the Waco Brothers pull off such change-ups effortlessly.”
Scott Wilson, Pitch Weekly

“The Waco Brothers don’t jump on the No Depression covered wagon so much as take Go to the top the reins and drive drunkenly into a deadly pass where the heroes of punk rock and country lie in wait to mock lesser outfits.”
Alec Bemis, Boston Phoenix

From Playboy:

By Tad Hendrickson
Listening to the Waco Brothers’ whiskey-soaked tales of barroom prophets, disillusioned romantics and rugged individualists, you would think that this six-piece grew up in West Texas shooting prairie dogs, drinking Lone Star beer and drivin’ pick-’em-up trucks. Actually, this crew of hard-drinking rowdies, which includes English expat/Mekon Jon Langford, calls the Windy City home. And while they didn’t grow up on the range, they do manage to do its music justice, playing a gritty blend of country, rock and pop.
Showing a healthy reverence for the music, the Wacos put forth an honesty that’s all-too-rare in this era of poster boys in cowboy hats marketed to Wal-Mart shoppers. Pedal steel, guitar, mandolin, drums and sweat are the tools of the trade for these regular guys. Call it insurgent country, alt country, country rock or neo-honky-tonk, this band is just bent on having a good time playing music as human as they are, and that is the real brass ring. The Waco Brothers are a rough-hewn musical crew that tug on the heart strings as easily as the liver.
Review from No Drepession March 99:
Nothing quite compares to the six drunkard Waco Brothers squeezing onto that plank-of a stage at the annual Yard Dog party at SXSW and whipping up a bloody-good, supercharged country fury. Undoubtedly, it is an annual highlight, but it poses a Waco-specific problem: Without the live electricity, the boozy antics, the booze, and even Beatle Bob undulating unnaturally in the front row, Waco albums are not nearly the glon ous hybrid that the much-bandied Cash-meets-Clash description suggests. Instead, they’re more like a can of cheap-ass American beer as sipped by a professional pint puller.
WacoWorld, the Chicago band’s unimaginatively titled fourth studio effort, does not eliminate this nagging problem. lt’s still inevitable to imagine how even the collection’s most raucous songs - the swing minded “Red Brick Wall” and the surfabilly-licked “Good For Me” - will sound onstage. But WacoWorld does lessen the craving, mainly by being the band’s most far-reaching effort to date. Not just because of the pronouncement of horns, key boards and, in the case of the paranoid R&B moment “The Hand That Throws The Bottle Down”, icy-cool harmonies (courtesy Kelly Hogan), but be-cause the sextet sounds like they really, really tried.
Throughout, Jon Langford and gang are both rock-steady and spirited - bassist Alan Doughty, for one, delivers some insanely cool bass lines - and the production is just grown-up enough to sound, weIl, grown up. But ultimately, this is Deano Schlabowske’s album. His heavy blue-collar vocal presence is a delight, especially on the soon-to-be-abducted-by-aliens weeper “HeIlo To Everybody” and the outlawish “Red Brick Wall”. The latter features the brilliant salvo, “On the day of his death I built JFK a shrine / I know just how he felt / I get murdered in Texas every time.” A perfect Go to the top line, whether drunk at a shindig in the Lone Star State or in your own living room.
- NEAL WEISS

Curtis Ross

03/26/99

Tampa Tribune, (Copyright 1999)

The biggest favor you could ever do a Waco Brothers CD is never to see them live. In person, the Wacos come on like six banditos trapped in the bunker with nothing to lose. They’re surrounded and they’ve got nothing left to do but spend all the ammo and leave as many casualties as possible. Even if they ever make their own “Exile on Main Street” or “Grievous Angel,” they’ll never capture that on a 5-inch silver platter.
So for recording purposes, the Wacos show they can do other things: buoyant pop (”Day of the Dead”), steel guitar-drenched weepers (”Hello to Everybody”) and nasty, left-leaning social commentary disguised as working man’s blues (”Pigsville”).
The eclecticism reflects this band’s bizarre-for-even-alternative-country pedigree. Jon Langford is one of the Mekons, who were pillaging country’s roots a decade and a half ago. But the respective outfits of Mark Durante (KMFDM?!) and Alan Doughty (Jesus Jones?!) would seem to have little connection to the Kentucky hills of Hank Williams.
It may be that outsider status that lets the Wacos take chances with country music that the crop of bimbos and bimbettes being churned out by Nashville wouldn’t dare, much less think of in the first place. Hence the surf’s-up guitar of “Good for Me” and the sentiments of the same (I know what’s good for me / But sometimes it’s good / To do all the other things).
The Clash-meets-Johnny Cash analogy has been overused to describe this band (and probably ignores the fact that Cash got wilder and crazier than the Clash ever did). But it gives a hint of what the Brothers are capable of. Pray they visit Florida soon, and play “Wacoworld” real loud in the meantime.

Robert Christgau:

The more you listen to Jon Langford or see him live, where he’ll spout wisecracks for hours the more impressive his verbal facility seems. But Deano is an equal partner in this particular metaphor system, which defines country music as the great lost conduit of white male working-class desperation. Langford tends toward the grimly matter-of-fact: “That’s why they’re called bars, ‘cos they keep me inside.” “But I’ll paint myself back out/Of this corner everytime.” Deano is more visionary, as in “Pigsville,” where you wake up next to your own chalk outline, or “Hello to Everybody,” where aliens abduct you to “a warmer planet/Where there is no consequence.” Both sing so lustily that the band’s indifference to the niceties of country as it Go to the top exists in history is of no consequence. When the milder-voiced mandolinist Mr. Tracey Dear takes the mike, however, the illusion pales.

A Minus

First Appeared in The Music Box, March 1999, Volume 6, #3

Written by John Metzger

Transplanted Brit Jon Langford stands at the heart of the insurgent country revolution. Fresh from leading the Pine Valley Cosmonauts through a rousing tribute to western swing great Bob Wills, Langford is determined to remain firmly entrenched in the spotlight. Last year, he reunited the Waco Brothers to record Waco World, the band’s fourth album for Chicago’s Bloodshot Records and their first release since 1997.
These days, Langford and his band, which features guitarist Dean Schlabowske, steel and 12-string guitarist Mark Durante, mandolinist Tracey Dear, drummer Steve Goulding, and bassist Alan Doughty, have a better grasp of country music than Nashville does. However, they steer clear of blindly reproducing the classic country sound. Instead, Waco World continues Langford’s determination to put the final nail in the coffin of the alternative country movement by tightly wrapping the country sound in a thick cloak of pure punk angst. The result is a finely tuned, thirteen-song album that makes the connection between Hank Williams and The Clash.
Waco World is brimming with songs for the working man. Their lyrics are dark, desolate, and thoroughly drenched in a variety of fermented grains; their music is caught somewhere between a drunken brawl and the morning after.
Hello to Everybody cops a country-rock ballad straight from the Rolling Stones, but the Waco Brothers do it better than the Stones have in years. Durante’s steel guitar slips and slides underneath the melody, packing volumes of emotion in his understated presence.
On Red Brick Wall, the Waco Brothers update Little Willie John’s Leave My Kitten Alone, creating a supercharged, adrenaline-pumping number that features honky-tonk piano and Poi Dog Pondering’s horn section. As the song concludes, Goulding kick-starts The Hand that Throws the Bottle Down, sending the group careening in a totally different direction. A powerful bass line laces the song with an animated undercurrent that guides the tune through its shimmering groove.
With a splash of country and a whole lot of punk, the Waco Brothers created a unique hybrid of American and British influences that is best washed down with your favorite fifth. In addition, all of the tracks on Waco World, with Go to the top the exception of the opening Pigsville, only improve with age. It’s a sure sign that this album contains a batch of well-written songs that are sure to remain in your CD player for years to come.

From Amplifier online:

The left-leaning lord of Leeds, Jon Langford, must have access to more hours in a day than the rest of us. In the last year or so, he’s been responsible for an album called Skull Orchard; a Bob Wills tribute record on which Langford’s Pine Valley Cosmonauts back a revolving door of guest vocalists (including Robbie Fulks, Alejandro Escovedo, and Neko Case); the latest effort from the musical sideshow that is the Mekons, a group Langford has been leading for 20 years; and a self-described “wee LP” from his punky-tonk outfit the Waco Brothers. Now here’s 1999 only a month and a half old, and there’s already a new Waco Brothers full-length on the shelves.
Wacoworld comes out of the gate strong with two gems: the taunting, soaring “Pigsville” and “Hello to Everybody,” on which insurgent country meets Muscle Shoals as steel guitar and soulful organ slow dance on the sawdust floor. The cowpoppy “Day of the Dead” and the late-album “Northwoods, which sounds like it could be one of Jason and the Scorchers’ mid-tempo tunes, also make immediate impressions. But then again things are never less than Go to the top entertaining, thanks to a righteous blend of spirit of ‘77 energy and country instrumentation (plenty of fiddle to keep the pedal steel company) that makes descriptors like “Johnny Clash” more than just clever wordplay.

– Rick Cornell

From: Miles for Music

Rated: 1 Poor cow running, screaming, trying to get away from this disc.
If this was an instrumental disc, it would probably still suck. Though maybe not quite as bad. I don’t think it would be possible for it to suck any worse. This disc was my first, and last, exposure to the Waco Brothers. Bloodshot is pretty proud of them. The Alt-Country community has embraced them as well. But I don’t care if Jesus himself rides down on his golden chariot with this thing blasting out of the Holy 8-Track, this disc still sucks.
The Waco Brothers are a band that hails out of Chicago. There’s decent music up there. Steve Goodman and John Prine lived in Chicago. Special Consensus is a damn good bluegrass band from Chicago. Robbie Fulks lives there. Lets not forget Muddy Waters, James Cotton, Buddy Guy, and all the good blues that come from that area. Even Chicago, Styx and Cheap Trick can claim Chicago as a hometown. There’s a hell of an alt-country/twang scene there. One that is rivaled only by Austin’s. What I don’t understand is why a band that I have only heard praise about, and who’s newest Cd I was looking forward to hearing, could suck so bad.
How does it suck? Let me count the ways. First and foremost, the vocals suck. I’m not sure which of the Waco’s is the predominate lead singer, it sounded like there were several, but it sucked. They all sucked. Offkey grunting warbling that sounded like drunk pigs screwing. Second, a cowboy hat don’t make a country band, and Americana or Alt-Country shouldn’t be a dumping ground for rock that sucks too bad to get played anywhere else. Third, I can handle bad singing if the songs don’t suck as well. Singer Songwriters are not known for having great singing voices. But if your songs AND your singing sucks, then you need to take one of those Sally Struthers home correspondence courses and learn TV/VCR repair, locksmithing, or how to be a music critic.
I have been told by friends that the Waco Brothers are a great band. Both live and on disc. I was told that they are a hard drinking bunch who put on a great live show. I was told that their show was one of the highlights of the SXSW music festival and corporate sponser group masterbation ceremony. I was also told that once I got married, I’d get laid twice a day too.
Go to the top Basically, here’s the deal. You can spend $10-15 bucks on this disc, or you can spend it on Tupperware. The Tupperware is a better use of plastic and is something you might actually use, Of course, I wonder if this disc is Microwave safe?. No dancing cows for the Waco Brothers.
Jeff Wall

© 1999 - John Sekerka

Jon Langford continues his fascination of bending country music as the Waco Brothers lay down another grand bunch of twisted tunes. This one’s a little heavier, leaning more to the rocky side of the boat, but the fiddles and mandolins and steel guitars are still very much in evidence. When there is call for twang, the Waco Brothers deliver in spades, though there’s no hiding a good pop song under any guise, or a British accent for that matter. After years with The Mekons and various side projects, Langford continues to hone his writing craft, making memorable music along the way. This ain’t no exception, and hell, there’s even a train song. You betcha!

From Austin Chronicle 15-3-99:

At the end of Westworld, Michael Crichton’s 1973 film about a futuristic cowboy theme park in which robot gunslinger Yul Brynner short circuits and starts plugging real people with real bullets, there’s only relentless pursuit. Brynner just keeps coming. With four albums in four years, Chicago’s Waco Brothers appear to be as indefatigable, and if their latest effort Wacoworld isn’t as murderously good as either of the group’s first two Clash-meets-Cash albums, it’s not lying face down in the street, either. Having lost some of that crisp English edge to their songs — and maybe even a little firepower — the Wacos, led by the notorious Oliver Reed doppelganger Jonboy Langford, have nevertheless gotten the action on their .45s so fine and smooth that every hail of bullets naturally has its share of bullseyes. Langford’s rude opener, “Pigsville,” bullseye. The last verse of “Red Brick Wall” (”on the day of his death, I built JFK a shrine. I know just how he felt — I get murdered in Texas everytime”), in the shoulder. The swagger of “The Hand That Throws That Bottle Down,” straight between the eyes. Gang leader Langford still has the truest aim, “Day of the Dead” a hit, but sidekick Deano gets his shots in, particularly on Wacoworld’s best cut, the mournfully atmospheric “Broken Down Row.” A few tunes end up lodged harmlessly in the bar, but hit or miss, the Waco Brothers just keep coming.
3 stars –Raoul Hernandez

Wagington Post, Friday, May 28, 1999

By Mark Jenkins
Probably because the majority of them are Americans, the Waco Brothers take a more earnest approach to country and roots music than their British cousins, the Mekons. Still, the bands share two key members, singer-guitarist John Langford and drummer Steve Goulding. The two are identified on the sextet’s “Waco World” only as “Jonboy” and “Leopard Boy Goulding,” but there’s no mistaking the latter’s robust thump or the former’s liquor-drenched tales of rebellion and despair.
“There’s nothing you’ve done to feel ashamed of,” announces the opening “Pigsville,” which bears Langford’s characteristic touch. So do such songs as “Fire Down Below” and “The Hand that Throws the Bottle Down,” which can be identified by the singer’s Welsh accent (listen for the r’s) and his class-consciousness: “There goes the winner but the race was rigged/ Feel like a loser? Well, the fight was fixed.” As usual, the songs of the Wacos’s other frontman, Dean Schlabowske are less compelling. Forays into blues and Western swing aren’t enough to keep “Waco World” interesting when Langford’s distinctive songs yield to Schlabowske’s merely competent ones.

First Appeared in The Music Box, March 1999, Volume 6, #3

Written by John Metzger

Transplanted Brit Jon Langford stands at the heart of the insurgent country revolution. Fresh from leading the Pine Valley Cosmonauts through a rousing tribute to western swing great Bob Wills, Langford is determined to remain firmly entrenched in the spotlight. Last year, he reunited the Waco Brothers to record Waco World, the band’s fourth album for Chicago’s Bloodshot Records and their first release since 1997.
These days, Langford and his band, which features guitarist Dean Schlabowske, steel and 12-string guitarist Mark Durante, mandolinist Tracey Dear, drummer Steve Goulding, and bassist Alan Doughty, have a better grasp of country music than Nashville does. However, they steer clear of blindly reproducing the classic country sound. Instead, Waco World continues Langford’s determination to put the final nail in the coffin of the alternative country movement by tightly wrapping the country sound in a thick cloak of pure punk angst. The result is a finely tuned, thirteen-song album that makes the connection between Hank Williams and The Clash.
Waco World is brimming with songs for the working man. Their lyrics are dark, desolate, and thoroughly drenched in a variety of fermented grains; their music is caught somewhere between a drunken brawl and the morning after.
Hello to Everybody cops a country-rock ballad straight from the Rolling Stones, but the Waco Brothers do it better than the Stones have in years. Durante’s steel guitar slips and slides underneath the melody, packing volumes of emotion in his understated presence. On Red Brick Wall, the Waco Brothers update Little Willie John’s Leave My Kitten Alone, creating a supercharged, adrenaline-pumping number that features honky-tonk piano and Poi Dog Pondering’s horn section. As the song concludes, Goulding kick-starts The Hand that Throws the Bottle Down, sending the group careening in a totally different direction. A powerful bass line laces the song with an animated undercurrent that guides the tune through its shimmering groove.
With a splash of country and a whole lot of punk, the Waco Brothers created a unique hybrid of American and British influences that is best washed down with your favorite fifth. In addition, all of the tracks on Waco World, with the exception of the opening Pigsville, only improve with age. It’s a sure sign that this album contains a batch of well-written songs that are sure to remain in your CD player for years to come.
The more you listen to Jon Langford- or see him live, where he’ll spout wisecracks for hours- the more impressive his verbal facility seems. But Deano is an equal partner in this particular metaphor system, which defines country music as the great lost conduit of white male working-class desperation. Langford tends toward the grimly matter-of-fact: “That’s why they’re called bars, ‘cos they keep me inside.” “But I’ll paint myself back out/Of this corner everytime.” Deano is more visionary, as in “Pigsville,” where you wake up next to your own chalk outline, or “Hello to Everybody,” where aliens abduct you to “a warmer planet/Where there is no consequence.” Both sing so lustily that the band’s indifference to the niceties of country as it exists in history is of no consequence. When the milder-voiced mandolinist Mr. Tracey Dear takes the mike, however, the illusion pales.
A Minus
By Robert Christgau: Village Voice, May 26 - June 1, 1999 Consumer Guide

From: http://www.pauserecord.com/events/newbandspotlight/Waco_Brothers.html

Transplanted Brit Jon Langford stands at the heart of the insurgent country revolution. Fresh from leading the Pine Valley Cosmonauts through a rousing tribute to western swing great Bob Wills, Langford is determined to remain firmly entrenched in the spotlight. Last year, he reunited the Waco Brothers to record Waco World, the band’s fourth album for Chicago’s Bloodshot Records and their first release since 1997.
These days, Langford and his band, which features guitarist Dean Schlabowske, steel and 12-string guitarist Mark Durante, mandolinist Tracey Dear, drummer Steve Goulding, and bassist Alan Doughty, have a better grasp of country music than Nashville does. However, they steer clear of blindly reproducing the classic country sound. Instead, Waco World continues Langford’s determination to put the final nail in the coffin of the alternative country movement by tightly wrapping the country sound in a thick cloak of pure punk angst. The result is a finely tuned, thirteen-song album that makes the connection between Hank Williams and The Clash.
Waco World is brimming with songs for the working man. Their lyrics are dark, desolate, and thoroughly drenched in a variety of fermented grains; their music is caught somewhere between a drunken brawl and the morning after.
Hello to Everybody cops a country-rock ballad straight from the Rolling Stones, but the Waco Brothers do it better than the Stones have in years. Durante’s steel guitar slips and slides underneath the melody, packing volumes of emotion in his understated presence.
On Red Brick Wall, the Waco Brothers update Little Willie John’s Leave My Kitten Alone, creating a supercharged, adrenaline-pumping number that features honky-tonk piano and Poi Dog Pondering’s horn section. As the song concludes, Goulding kick-starts The Hand that Throws the Bottle Down, sending the group careening in a totally different direction. A powerful bass line laces the song with an animated undercurrent that guides the tune through its shimmering groove.
With a splash of country and a whole lot of punk, the Waco Brothers created a unique hybrid of American and British influences that is best washed down with your favorite fifth. In addition, all of the tracks on Waco World, with the exception of the opening Pigsville, only improve with age. It’s a sure sign that this album contains a batch of well-written songs that are sure to remain in your CD player for years to come.
John Metzger

From: Naples Daily News:

British artists have long looked across the Atlantic for musical inspiration. Eric Clapton appropriated southern blues; the Clash took Jamaican reggae; Billy Bragg stole American folk. Add the Waco Brothers to that illustrious list.
Four of the six Wacos are British, and the band’s members feature fairly accomplished music resumes (Mekons, Poi Dog Pondering, KMFDM, Jesus Jones), but their sound is unabashedly American. It’s a mix of Nashville and the Chicago alt-country sound that’s been percolating for the last few years. Singer Jon Langford sings his left-leaning lyrics with passion and a late-’70s punk energy, while the band moves easily through the styles of Americana.
“Fire Down Below” has a Texas-style push behind it, while songs like the opening “Pigsville” could be an outtake from the Clash’s “London Calling.” Genres from rockabilly to classic country ballads are all represented, but the thing that holds them all together is one surprising fact: underneath those British accents lie truly American souls. The Wacos get this music at a deep level, which makes their fine new album an exciting mixture of American styles and British punk energy.
From splendidezine

If you’ve paid only scant attention to the Waco Brothers and the rest of the Bloodshot Records stable, you might be a little unclear on the whole “insurgent country” concept. Hell, if you’re an old punk rocker, “country” is a dirty word, right? But, as WacoWorld handily re-establishes, the Waco Bros. aren’t Big Business Country — theirs is the Country of Hank Williams, of grim reality, of longing and loss and of Solving Problems With Liquor. Yes, you’ll hear twangy steel guitar, fiddle, mandolin and the other trappings of more traditional country music, but songs like the lovelorn failure ditty “Red Brick Wall” and the squalor-wallowing “Broken Down Row” are unsanitized slices of life that connect with the real world. “Good For Me” owes more of its musical heritage to the blues (via the Rolling Stones) than anything that’s come out of Nashville — but by virtue of the defiant desperation of its mood and the vaguely southwestern bias of its lyrics, it’s country, dammit! You can’t line dance to the Waco Brothers, thank God — the appropriate listening posture is leaning against a bar, holding a drink and a cigarette in one hand and giving the Man the finger with the other. It’s attitude, and it’s good. Why waste your money on another Pearl Jam clone when you can spend the day at WacoWorld?
Review by George Zahora

Do you think about me?

doyouBloodshot BS024 CD, 1997

SONGS:

Do You Think AboutMe?
Revolution Blues
Wickedest City
Arizona Rose
You Know Who
Got To Be Someone
Hard Times
Napa Valley
South Bend
Frightened

A first review:

Date: Tue, 9 Sep 1997 01:42:05 -0400 (EDT)
From: LindaRay64@aol.com
To: postcard2@u.washington.edu
Subject: Re: A smattering of questions
Message-ID: <970909014205_53202593@emout06.mail.aol.com>

IMVHO (as a Wacos addict), Do you Think About Me is the best Wacos song ever
(it’s by Lonesome Bob and much as I love him they kick his butt with it. Of
course, that’s just what Wacos DO.) The second best Wacos song ever is Neil
Young’s Revolution Blues. I didn’t think the rest of the record was as good
as Flames, but I really love contrasting the sympathetic “South Bend” with
anything on “24 Hours a Day.” The fact that I don’t like some of it quite as
well does not mean I’d be willing to go through life without it.

I hope Chicago P2 ers will turn out for the release party (which,
coincidentally, is on my birthday) It’ll be a pretty happy one of the
better ones with Moonshine Willy, the Waco Brothers, Sally Timms and Rico
Bell. P2ers will especially enjoy the spirit of “Napa Valley”: I’ve been
drunk a thousand times/and I would sober up/but there’s no reason.”

Politically, the target here is apathy. It’s treated in at least two songs,
maybe more. I can’t remember. It’s the thousandth time that gets ya.

Linda

The Boston Globe / September 5, 1997, Friday

The Mekons’ Jon Langford gets a little bit country;
BY: By Jim Sullivan, Globe Staff
British-born singer-songwriter-guitarist Jon Langford often wears two or more hats, but at the moment, on holiday in southern Maine with his wife and child as summer’s winding down, he’s happy to report he’s we aring “no hats at all.”
Langford co-leads the Chicago-based country-punk Waco Brothers and the spread-all-over-the-map Mekons, the former of which has a CD called “Do You Think About Me?” out Sept. 16 on Bloodshot, and the latter of which shows up for a hootin’ and hollerin’ gig at the Middle East Downstairs Thursday.
“The Mekons gigs have always been an extension of . . . social life for me,” says Langford. “It’s always been quite a serious band with quite a serious agenda, but you go to a gig, and it’s like you take something fun very seriously. That’s the point of music on a Friday night. People have been doing that for hundreds of years.”
The Mekons, formed in 1977 in Leeds alongside fellow left-wing punkers Gang of Four, are noted for rattling cages and raising holy hell. They’re a little bit country, a lot rock ‘n’ roll, and, depending on the mood, you’ll find techno and dub creeping in, too. The Mekons, which are co-led by singer-songwriter-guitarist Tom Greenhalgh and can grow to nine members in concert, will be in our midst next week because of the “Mekons United Art Exhibit” in New York, at the Threadwaxing Space, from Sept. 13 through Oct. 31. No joke. Various Mekons are painters. As such, they figured they’d mount a quick East Coast tour while they were all gathered together. (Their label, Touch & Go/Quarterstick, just reissued their 1980 album, “Mekons”; they’ll be recording a new one in Chicago shortly.)
The Waco Brothers? They started as a we’ll-play-for-beer-money country-punk cover band for the relocated Langford and his pals, who include Mark Durante (KMFDM, Revco) and Alan Doughty (Jesus Jones). “The Wacos are just a chemically different selection of people similar to the Mekons,” explains Langford, “in the shared vocals and shared songwriting. Different because, geographically, it’s a hometown band.” (Drummer Steve Goulding wears the same hats as does Langford; he’s also a Mekon.)
Both bands share a communal ethos, a welcome-to-the-clubhouse vibe. “I like sweaty little clubs,” says Langford, “where there is some way to communicate. We always worried, when punk was going on, about the barrier between the audience and the band. There is a way of breaking that down, where you’re all on the same level.” From: http://www.imusic.com/showcase/country/wacobrothers.html
Just when you thought it was safe to like tepid country rock crapola and third-rate, angst-ridden indie posturing again, your comrades at Chicago’s own Bloodshot Records — the nation’s sole purveyors of Insurgent Country music — are here to give you what you really need: a careening three-chord frontal assault, devilishly gleeful “fuck-it-all” delivery, glorious, down-in-flames, beer-logic despair, and a heart of solid coal. Ladies and germs! Presenting — Do You Think About Me — the new cd from THE WACO BROTHERS.

When we last heard from the Wacos, they were swinging a “Nine Pound Hammer” on Bloodshot’s Straight Outta Boone County compilation in the company of Robbie Fulks, Hazeldine and Holler, to name a few. Now the cheese stands along — witness ten all new-songs that piss on and subsequently blur the lines between punk and country. From the horn-driven album-opening title number (call it “Exile on Waco Street”), to the blitzkrieg cover of Neil Young’s “Revolution Blues” (they ain’t called the Waco Brothers for nothin’), to weaving, whiskey-addled waltzes and swinging, spooky-ass barnburners –Do You Think About Me is guaranteed to rock the union hall. Some of these tracks are spilt-over from the acclaimed To The Last Dead Cowboy and Cowboy in Flames sessions - songs too good to die — and be sure to listen out for our old pal Tom Ray of The Bottle Rockets whomping the double bass on a few songs. All together its 31 minutes of Waco greatness — where country spirit beats the hell out of country form –
Introducing the hardest drinking men in show business:
Jon Langford (Mekons, Steve Goulding (Mekons, Poi Dog, Rumour), Dean Schlabowske (Wreck), Mark Durante (KMFDM, RevCo), Alan Doughty (Jesus Jones), and Tracey Dear (world’s greatest living Englishman). v Do You Think About Me delivers a swift kick in the bread basket to the chickenshit and complacent, and serves as a moral centerpiece for the whole Insurgent Country movement. Keep ahead of the mounting, smoldering wreckage and don’t let the revolution pass you by…

From: http://members.aol.com/countryst1/CDwacobrothers.html

The Waco Brothers once again explore the common angst of punk and country - with a definite leaning to the former. Only “Arizona Rose” and “You Know Who” feature vocals and instrumentation which would not seem foreign to your traditional-based country listener. While some tracks have insurgent country twang, others are strictly rock oriented. The opening title track recalls the Stones, and others such as “Frightened” and Neil Young’s “Revolution Blues” are clearly Clash-like.
Although the Wacos (featuring members of The Mekons and Jesus Jones amongst others) don’t display the reverence for country music that Bloodshot labelmates Robbie Fulks and the Grevious Angels appear to have, this one should appeal to the insurgent country listener coming at it from a predominantly punk background.
- Robert Wooldridge Another review by Linda Ray, from No Depression, Jan. 98.

Cowboys In Flames

wac_cowBloodshot BS015 CD, 1997

SONGS:

See Willy Fly By
Waco Express
Take Me To The Fires
Out There A Ways
Dollar Dress
Out In The Light
Cowboy In Flames
Fast Train Down
Wreck On The Highway
Dry Land
Do What I Say
White Lightning
Big River
The Death Of Country Music

Lyrics

SEE WILLY FLY BY

In this suburb of Babylon, they don’t like to wait
They kill the messenger ‘cos the message was late
Kill the child starving at the gate
Predicting the rain of the state

See Willy fly by, in the by and by
In the never you mind, in the wait and see
In the us and them, in the them and us, in the them and me
He’s the exception that proves the rule
All your dreams are a lie
Now much will you swallow when Willy flies by?

There’s something rotten round here, nobody forgot
All the rest on the bottom, white men still on the top
Walk and talk with Suzie, shoot to cripple and main
Shoot to kill again and again and again

Gonna build me a house, on a mountain so high
Sit in my car and stare up at the sky
The dream is a lie, put it to the test
One man rising up on the backs of the rest
On the backs of his family, all the duds and the Does
‘Til the sun melts his wings and down we all go

See Willy fly by, in the by and by
In the never you mind, in the dollar store light
In the there you go, in the wait and see
In the us and them, in the them and us,
In the should have been me
He’s the exception that proves the rule
All your dreams are a lie
See trains all leaving without you, when Willy flies by

OUT THERE A WAYS

You’re just out there a ways
It’ll be alright
You’re just out there a ways
With your flagging career
And your peeling veneer
You’ve still got it
You’re just out there a ways

There’s always big, big money
Big, big thrills
Big, big clean-up
And big, big bills

Out there a ways
You’re just out there a ways
It’ll be alright-you’re just out there a ways

(Repeat chorus)

You’re a recent divorce from your menagerie
You’re still standing
You’re just out there a ways
You’re the queen of the ball-warts and all
Hang on tight
We’re going out there a ways

(Repeat chorus)

Out there a ways
You’re just out there a ways
It’ll be alright
You’re just out there aways

WACO EXPRESS

Everybody’s on the bandwagon again
Get on board the Waco Express again
She’s got thirteen gears twelve in reverse
A funky mess in a silver purse
Everybody’s on the bandwagon again

The reason why you don’t tell me you love me
The reason why you don’t tell me you care
The reason why you just tower above me
Is darlin’ you’re scared

Everybody wants a sure thing these days
Nobody wants to go out on a limb these days
Everytime I see you asking for more
You turn into a puddle out on the floor
Nobody wants to go out on a limb these days
(Repeat chorus)
(Repeat 1st verse)

TAKE ME TO THE FIRES

When my time expires
Take me to the fires
And we’ll all go
The only way we know
Thanks, I’ll live my life now
Not tomorrow
You won’t see my face
In so higher place

Oh dear father, please listen to me
I’ve not long to live, standing on this cliff
One side the land lays, but these jagged old rocks
Are so way for a good man to go
Offer so redemtions, there’s no takers near
Just you mind your manners, we’ve got company here
I’ve had a feeling about those crusty old men
I’m not sure if they’re angels or ghosts
(repeat chorus)
You can’t stake no claim on my last name
When it’s time to go, just throw me in that hole
And there I gladly lay, cuz this world wears me out
With all these offerings of false gold
The dogs want my money, the vultures want my eyes
From where I’m standing I realize
One side the land lays, but those jagged old rocks
Are starting to look real good to me
(Jump you bugger jump!)

(repeat chorus)

I’ve seen the light
I’ve seen the light
I’ve felt those flames
Throw another one on
We’re going down
I’ve seen the lights
I’ve felt those flames

COWBOY IN FLAMES

You feel disgusted and confused
Manipulated and abused
You’re not the reason, you’re just the means
It’s a brutal little lesson in being free
40 days & 40 nights, out of mind is out of sight
Talking trash, conspiracies
Handing all your weapons to your enemies

I claw at another door and everything will slip away
> There’s so much money washing round out there
Can’t a little bit come my way?
Uh Uh Uh Oh! PUNISHMENT PUNISHNMENT!
Earthbound & heaven seat
Brainwashed, lobotomised
Cowboy in flames, bombs in the sky

General Custer’s on the trail
His last letter’s in the mail
It’s propaganda, it’s marketing
Oooh General Custard died for your sins
And the good old rock where we once stood
Has got too old to be much good
And the good old ways are sick and lame
Third world on horseback
Cowboy in Flames

DOLLAR DRESS

She is dancing with death in the Dollar Dress
There’s a box in an attic in a run down northern town
There’s a key on the shelf so you can look inside
There’s a song that will pick you up and spin you round
A photograph and a letter left behind

Can you prove you’re alive? Do you know where you’re been today?
Sown into the fabric of your life, washed and mended, worn away

She is dancing with death in the dollar dress

The hooter sounds and the whole town shakes again
A line of ghosts clock out at the factory gates
Cousins, sisters and brothers are spirited home
They block the streets and make the traffic wait

Will the flag still fly, if the wind don’t blow today?
It’s sown into the fabric of your life, washed and mended, worn away

OUT IN THE LIGHT

As the night wears on - it gets so black
As the night wears on - it gets so black
There was a time you shined like chrome
What turned you into such a hack?

Won’t you tell me why
It looks so apealing
It looks so disguised
Won’t you tell me why
It loses it’s charm when its
Out In The Light

Shiny new car on the showroom floor
Shiny new car on the showroom floor
There was a time you ran so hard
What turned you into such a bore

(repeat chorus)
My love is an anchor, my heart is a stone
My love is an anchor, my heart is a stone
Should ever you wander far and wide
Hope you have the good sense to find your way home

FAST TRAIN DOWN

On my way out on a westbound train
Well it gets in my blood - it gets in my brain
They say all that you need is a dollar and a dream
But a lifetime is such a long time to wait

From the shores of the Atlantic
To that evil desert town
Unseen forces pull us forward
And I’m riding that Fast Train Down

Spent thirteen years in this old warehouse
The boxes come in and the boxes go out
I caught my first glimpse of sunlight today
When I pinned my hopes on the westbound train

The conductor holds his wallet
while the steward eyes his watch
Unseen forces pull us forward
As I’m riding that fast train down

You pull on the arm and the wheels turn round
Press on the handle and it all swirls down
Push on the button someone comes to ease your pain
And you rattle them bones - you’re at it again

So count your winnings, count your losses
Pawn your trumpet, hock your crown
Unseen forces pull us forward
And I’m riding that fast train down

DO WHAT I SAY

Do what I say don’t do what I do
There’s already one of me and we don’t need two
Drinking all night and sleeping right through the afternoon
Oh! Do what I say don’t do what I do

Saturday night, sunday morning I’m staring at the door
Sitting here waiting ’til you stumble in around about half past 4
You’re in trouble, you’re seeing double
Is there on of me or two?
Looking at you, looking at me, looking at you

I called home I got the ansafone I said “don’t wait up for me”
When I got home full of PBR it was only half past 3
The bed was empty, the sheets were cold, you forgot what I told you
Oh! Do what I say don’t do what I do

I don’t think it’s asking too much that you be here for me
You say it’s all double standars & hypocritical old bollocks
We drink hard all night ‘cos we work hard all day
You say you’ll do what I do but you won’t do what I say

THE DEATH OF COUNTRY MUSIC

My body is a temple safer than a prison
But I’ve done some demolition and in a world gone wrong
The Death Of Country Music rattles round the planet
So we light a flame and fan it deep int the night
Where the city casts its shadow we leave the straight and narrow
And tomorrow and forever seem so far away
Where the dancefloor’s overcrowded and the music’s getting louder
People do some breathing while they’re cheating death

Tonight the west is sleeping and the desert will be creeping
Inch by inch across the continent
And the bones of country music lie there in their casket
Beneath the towers of Nashville in a black pool of neglect
So we cast our nets in the water, dragged the pool and caught ‘em
Grind ‘em up and snort ‘em, deep into the night
And we spill some blood on the ashes
Of the bones of the Jones and the Ca-ashizz
Skulls in false eye-lacher whast riders in the sky!

REVIEWS:

Led by the Mekons’ Jon Langford and also containing a number of other indie-rock refugees, this insurgent-country band comes on like rowdy drinking buddies who also happen to be committed leftists. The Wacos bring plenty of punk attitude to their boisterous performances, while laying bare the pain inflicted by corporate and government power.
The Wacos carry along their militant politics with equally hard-hitting music that sounds like a rowdy Texas honky tonk taken over by committed punk rockers. Their raucous, invigorating sound makes an appropriate vehicle for the scathing attack on government abuse in the album title song, and the portrayal of the deadening working-class grind in “Fast Train Down.”
Along with their own originals, the Wacos also turn out three spirited covers of country classics. Occasionally, the band’s raggedness limits their effectiveness. In particular, some of the songs could’ve used stronger vocals. And there’s also an unsuccessful attempt to resurrect the overused Bo Diddley beat in “Out In The Light.”
Still, the Wacos’ second album is an often-stirring document of hard-hitting music and politics.
- Don Yates

These days Leeds punk-rock intellectual and prophet without honour Jon Langford is ensconced in Chicago’s alternative country rock scene, The Waco Brothers being but one of the red-faced Mekon’s many musical outlets. If The Clash had followed through their Joe Ely fixation, they might have made an album like Cowboy In Flames. On See Willy Fly By and Take Me To The Fires Langford’s guttural growl sounds so much like Joe Strummer it’s almost unsettling. A suspiciously pseudonymous ‘Deano’ lends his gentler vocal tones to the less strident songs, and even the occasional Tex Mex stylings are dispatched with enough energy and conviction to silence any sarcastic Yee-hah!s.
Stewart Lee -Q

The latest chapter in the saga of Los Hermanos Wacos. Here’s a wicked little skunk tossed into the tent of bloated, co? r?rrupt excesses. Making good on their promise (or was that a threat??) of their first record, the Wacos deliver a slab brimming with grim romanticism, and joyous, near ecstatic, drunken stomps. Join the cause as they strip the fat and greasepaint off country music’s carcass and build a pagan temple out of its bones. In addition to the anthemic (and we don’t bandy that word around lightly) originals, there are scalding versions of “White Lightning,” “Wreck On The Highway,” and “Big River.” We think you’ll agree, “Cowboy In Flames” is a sure tonic to wash the taste of disgust out of a parched nation’s throat.

“Possessed by the demon of rock’n'roll, haunted by the ghosts of old country music…to make matters better, the group’s originals are so consistently inspired they come across as instant classics.”
Paul Verna Billboard

“They may be pillaging country’s grave, but in the Waco Brothers’ hands, such Go to the top desecration becomes an act of reverence.”
Greg Kot Chicago Reader

To the last dead cowboy

waco_dedBloodshot BS006 Limited Edition Vinyl LP CD, 1995

SONGS:

Geronimo
Plenty Tough - Union Made
Harm’s way
Bully
If you Don’t Change Your Mind
Lake Of Vinegar
Too Sweet To Die
Sometimes I Wonder
To The Last Dead Cowboy
K.T. Tennessee
Whisperin’ In My Ear
Bad Times (are Comin’Round Again)
Red door
$ Bill The Cowboy

Lyrics

To sweet to die

to the devil and all his cockroaches
we’ll raise our glass today
but before we sip this poisened wine
we will kneel and pray

that bastard says come and get it
the drugs and the money’s right here
but where was he when I needed him
downtown drinking beer

oh we’re too sweet to die
we’ll be buried alive
the lipstick on my shirt says
we’re too sweet to die

you threw me out the limo
i fell and smashed my head
stumbled to the water
and sank to the river bed
down there with the roots and weeds
I was dragged along for a while
hair like shellery winters
night of the hunter style
but up up up oes love
down down down goes hate
you led me up the garden
and left me by the pearly gates

Bad times

we all knew things had to get better
if we kept acting rattional and sane
now i can see the clouds on the horizon
bad times coming round again

the sun ripens corn across the country
shares are rising on the stock exchange
people making hay while the sun shines
cos bad times are coming round again

bad times coming round
bad times coming round
bad times coming round again

you might need a drink
but you don’t need a weather vane
bad times coming round again

black slaves shipped here in their millions
worked and died til freedom was won
now you look around for that freedom
see it slipping down the barrel of a gun
white men in grey suits lose all direction
white men in hood are back again
ruinning in the 96 election
bad times coming round again

bad times coming round
bad times coming round
bad times coming round again
board up your window
it might be a hurrican
bad times coming round again

yuppies come and gentrify your neighbourhood
crusties say they fight it to the end
no one askes the black or the lationo
bad times coming round again

if you don’t change your mind

if you don’t change your mind I’ll change it for you
if you don’t really mind, I’ll take it from here

there’s no use resisiting
I’m coming your way
i’ve been confined for an eternity
going to roll into this sleepy town
going to turn this motel upside down

the old men are smiling across the road
makes ‘em feel like they’re in the 9know
you complained about this dusty town
you got your law and your order now

whisperin in my ear

i’ve smelled the glory and i’ve asked for money
i’ve seen the screenplay and i’ve been hooked
you’re going down now for a count of thirteen
just pretend you never looked

at the age of fourteen the city called me
called my bluff, called me a fool
now i feel like i’m ninety seven
and you’re still taking me at school

late at night as I sit drinking
i start to see things clearer still
though i’ll never be in your company
you’re always whispering in my ear

cold calling i a tuxedo
and cancassing in a sequined gown
those last minutes alterations
she’s gonna take me right to town

harm’s way

i slipped out the back door as the ambulance arrived
i would’ve liked to tell ‘em my story, but i know i would’ve lied
so i pawned my sister’s dfiamond ring, got on the greyhound’s back
i figured with a little leeway i must just get on track

and i’m just trying to stay out of harm’s way

by the time i got to chicago i thought i had something to sell
but the deal fell through as they alwas do
ce’es la vie what the hell
every time i think of my baby working in that old coalmine
i feel so goddam guilty i almost change my mind

red door

at the top of the stairs is a red door
she locks it behind her each night
i sit on the stoop at the druggists
and wonder who shut out the lights

at the top of the stairs is a red door
on the night stand sits a black phone
it’s been years since she disconnected
but there’s one more way to be alone

she used to drink sour mash whiskey
and dance on her toes until dawn
nobody knows why she went away
and where all the music was gone

at the end of the road is a dancehall
they boarded it up years ago
the laudanum drafts are all dry now
but there’s one more way to be alone

at the top of the stairs is a red door
someday I’ll tear that thing down
but for now i’ll just sit and wait for the daylight
and there’s no way to be alone

lake of vinegar

please don’t fall in love tonight
just go on home
a sober man gives up the fight
if he’s got someplace to go

i never get the message that’s washed up on the sand
i wake up in some strange place and there’s a bottle in my hand
i’m grateful for your company please sponge my brow
and soak me in cold water

there’s a taste so sour i can’t wash from my mouth
across the lake of vinegar i rowed my boat so far
but never caught her
the night was dark, she was nowhere to be found

i never got the message that’s washed up on the sand
i wake up in some strange place and there’s a bottle in my hand
take off my clothes and take me in
i’m sick and lonely, so in need of shelter

don’t let me be misunderstood again
so drowned in drink i nearly fell over the heels
to kiss the captain’s daughtrer
and now i can’t explain about a thing

k.t.tennessee

if i was you eaving,i’d leave in the morning
and not even wait for goodbye
no, don’t you just stand there fumbling your words
i don’t wanna see those packed up leaving eyes
cos you walked all over may heart last night
and we reached new heights of pain
don’t wait to hear my side of things
cos i’d be beggin you to come back again

you followed my lead, and you packed up your bags
took a train far away from me
to see if she knew where you might be
she said son i’ve lost Katie ever since she was nine
i think you better come in and sit down
you look a good man don’t blame yourself
i’ll tell you really why my little girl left town

oh, we don’t have toi say in our in our in laws
now there’s an old man who sits behind bars
seemed he always had the eye for pretty young girls
and my Katie she bears al his scars

so if i was you leaving i’d leave in the morning
and not even wait for goodbye
no, don’t you just stand there fumbling your words
i don’t wanna see those packed up leaving eyes
cos they’ve trampled all over your heart before
and there’s no way to switch off the pain
but there’s one man right here to take you away from fear
and i’m beggin for you to come back again

sometimes i wonder

you never believe me, even when i tell the truth
and as the lights are turned off in a humble home
a band plays out of tune
you never console me, even though i throw the fight
and you wonder aloud where we bother
to crawl to the same bed each night

that’s what she said
and without a tear
sometimes i wonder
what i’m doing here

my dear as you’re sleeping so you dream of the day
when the sun is so bright and the sky so clear
you can dodge what’s headed your way

to the last dead cowboy

i’m a careless, hopeless, hard drinkin man
frightened of the thunder and the cold
many times you’ve seen out there on the land
i’m a man who died long time ago
i’m a man who died long time ago

the trail is hard, but it leads everywhere
out in the desert glare i pull my hat down over my eyes
jyxpnotised by the image on the screen
that shirt so whíte and clean, silver pistosl at his side

take a trip to the wide open spaces
looking for the traces of the wild frontier’s call
riding out, feel the rain on your faces
through familiar places, thr truckstop and the mall

this country starts to look and sound the same
there’s a singerr on the radio and i don’t like his name

we’ll ride the range, paint the town red on the weekends
while the bankers and the lawyers drive our country to the wall
the four winds blow so i turn up my collar
buy a burger for a dollar, it’s the final cattle call

$ Bill the Cowboy

the last president of the United States that’s $ Bill the cowboy
standing under the gallows tree $ Bill the cowboy
a quite man with dignity $ Bill the cowboy
skulls and bones and history $ Bill the cowboy

finish the puzzle attach the muzzle
the white heat of techology
will you take a kiss from these yellow gypsy lips
will you take one last ride with me…

he’s the one-eyed jack in the pyramid that’s $ Bill the cowboy
from halloween to halloween $ Bill the cowboy
he’ll run from here to eternioty $ Bill the cowboy
standing under the gallows tree $ Bill the cowboy

Take one last ride, take one last ride with me
will you take one last ride with me
will you take a kiss from these yellow gypsy lips

Plenty tuff union made

from the country to the town
police and bosses held us down
back at the start when the ground was laid
plenty tough union made

i don’t think the king woke up one morning
said all people should be better paid (no)
things were bad but things got changed
plenty tough union made

plenty tough union made
one long struggle day by day
that’s how we got to live this way
plenty tough union made

risked a lot to live like humans
locked out, beaten and defamed
no one said it was gonna be easy
plenty tough union made

cowards cringe an traitors sneer
liker the class war never happened here
but don’t forget as the future fades
plenty tough union made

our rewards are not in heaven (ptum)
weak apart and strong together (ptum)
devided we fall, united we stand (ptum)
working woman and working man (ptum)
we’re not waiting for judgement day (ptum)

Bully
(by Bedlam Rovers)

feet don’t fail me now
from mouth to floor
choose the pedal and stick there

and the shoulders have no head
and i have no core and long to pull over and sleep there

in the flesh it’s awrinkle I didn’t expect
when did the journey become such a chore?

the bully’s been picking fights
pinching and chapping hides
and leaving nasty clues on dressing rooms walls
and that’s not all

trust a tall shepherd when ypu’re lame and bleating
been bruised so badly it’s not worth reperating
are my cheeks red?
and i forgive you for everything

that respectable suit hangs ragged and loose
it’s ahazard it fits you
and the pupil shines without distractions and dots and lines
painted rosy and damn that must get you
careful what you’re backed into

down like a hawk to peck you to pieces
questioned wach action and kept you from speaking
are my cheeks red?
i forgive you for everything…
but i’ll forgive you for everything

Review:

The Waco Brothers are an alternative-country side-project led by Jon Langford of indie-rock band the Mekons and also including Steve Goulding of the Mekons, Dan Schlabowske of Wreck and Tom Ray of the Bottle Rockets. Langford especially is no stranger to country - his love for the music led him to steer the Mekons in that direction. The album is punchier than the Mekons albums, but the fusion of indie-rock toughness and country melancholy is the same, as are- biting political lyrics. The album begins with a fine galloping instrumental called “Geronimo” before careening into the militant, working-class anthem, “Plenty Tough - Union Made.” Other highlights include the title song, a symbolic portrait of the country’s virtues perverted through capitalist excess, Langford’s take on the Republican “Revolution,” “Bad Times (Are Comin’ Round Again)” and the rollicking sing-a-long, “$ Bill the Cowboy.”Not everything works - love and heartbreak aren’t the Waco Brothers strong suits, as songs such as “Sometimes I Wonder” and “K.T. Tennessee” prove. But there’s plenty more country kick and lyrical bite here than Music Row churns out in an average month.
- Don Yates

With the release of this album, the line in the sand has been drawn; it is time to round up the ignorant and the ignoble. Hard Country’s fiercest line-up (Jon Langford {Mekons}, Dean Schlabowske {Wreck}, Tom Ray {Bottle Rockets}, Steve Goulding {Mekons, Poi Dog Pondering, Graham Parker}, and Tracy Dear {The World’s Greatest Living Englishman}) has forged 14 songs designed to make any last stand one helluva party. A perfect excuse to raise your glass and curse your boss.

What do a bunch of old, limey punks have to do with country music? Let’s let Herr Langford answer: “It’s so direct and honest, it’s almost painful…All the songs are about sex and death and drinking. If you listen to early George Jones, it’s simple, three-chord stuff where the subject is everyday life…It could be the Buzzcocks.” LP includes an 11×17 poster insert with Langford artwork and lyrics. Features such now famous manifestos as “Plenty Tough, Union Made,” and “Too Sweet To Die.” Pick it up and yell along, because, like us, you’re made as hell and you’re not gonna take it anymore!!!!!

“Any true Mekons fan will recognize Jon Langford’s bloke bluster and speed-twang guitar runs poking out of this outfit…Redneck roots for rootsy old reds.” Eric Weisbard, SPIN

“Mutant country-rock that’s somewhere between a lark and a lost cause. The Wacos are capable of music more sincere and moving than they’ll ever get credit for…A heart-breaker like ‘If You Don’t Change Your Mind’ has the makings of a honky-tonk classic.” Dusty Miller, Option

“The Waco Brothers play ‘hard country,’ which seems to mean country rock without the slightest influence from the Eagles….They do particularly well describing how alcohol can help with crushed aspirations.” Go to the top Charles M Young, Playboy (yep, that’s right, the Wacos graced the same pages as a scantily clad Pamela Lee–chilling, isn’t it??).